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Should You Manage Money Jointly? How to Manage Finances for Couples

Rouselle Isla

Rouselle Isla

Last updated February 16, 2024

Money may be the last thing on your mind when you’re head over heels in love. But as you get more serious in your relationship, the topic of money and how to merge your finances will surely come up. 

If you want to avoid tension or conflict, one of the most crucial things you need to sort out is how to manage your finances as a married couple. As early as possible, you must align your preferences to resolve any issues and achieve your financial goals as a couple. 

But there seems to be a great divide on the topic of merging finances. While some prefer keeping their finances separate, others believe it’s easier to navigate financial planning using just one account instead of two. 

What Combined Finances Mean for Married Couples

how to manage finances as a married couple - what combined finances mean

When you say combined finances, it means transparent and collaborative financial planning and decision-making. You merge your finances in a single or a separate primary account, and you and your partner can monitor, put in, and move out funds according to their purpose. In short, as a married couple, you’re acting as one economic unit. 

To combine finances after marriage is often a delicate but important decision and transition. How you do it will depend on you and your partner.

You may merge and share every account, from credit cards, savings and checking accounts, household budgets, and retirement funds. Or you may keep separate funds but still share an account or two for utilities and recreation. 

In any case, the accounts you decide to merge, the percentage and frequency of your contributions, and the apps, tools, or methods you use to make it possible are all up to you. The most important thing to know about how to manage finances as a married couple is that it should be fair, sustainable, and transparent for you and your spouse.  

Related: How to Build a Financial Roadmap: Your Road To Financial Success

Should Couples Merge Their Finances?

how to manage finances as a married couple - should couples merge finances

As someone in a serious, long-term relationship, you’re probably wondering: should you combine finances when you marry?

For some couples, sharing income, expenses, and everything else money-related is a personal choice. But others prefer not to because they don’t want to expose their partners to potential liability as a professional or business owner. Or perhaps they simply want to manage their properties, inheritance, or business interests separately. 

Whether married or in serious, long-term relationships, every couple is different. While one thing can work for one couple, it might not work for others. So merging finances is not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. There’s no hard answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t combine finances after marriage—it all boils down to individual preference. 

If you do plan to combine finances with your significant other, consider these pros and cons: 

👍 Pros of Combining Finances 

  • It builds trust, financial transparency, and accountability. There's no hiding anything when you put your finances together. You and your partner can see how much you’re bringing to the table and how you spend. You can use this knowledge to make better financial decisions. 
  • Discussing common goals and ensuring you’re on the same page is easier.  You can easily make headway on all your financial goals with combined finances. It simplifies financial planning and money management. 
  • It promotes togetherness and teamwork. It eliminates the dynamic of ‘my and your money’ and promotes ‘our money.’
  • It fosters a better sense of equality in the marriage. Not all couples earn the same income. Merging finances, like setting up a joint account, can make this financial imbalance feel more equal and less stressful. 

Related: 5 Signs of Financial Compatibility

👎 Cons of Combining Finances 

  • You’re accountable for someone else. Since you and your partner can access your funds, you must always consider the other’s financial well-being before deciding on what to do with the money. It may cause you to feel like you have no autonomy or control over your money, as you must inform your partner or get approval first. 
  • It can cause disagreements or resentment. Even if you agree on joint finances, you can’t completely avoid arguments over money in the future, which can cause a rift in your relationship. 
  • It can be complicated and costly to separate your accounts and pay off any joint debts and obligations if the relationship turns sour and you decide to part ways.

Related: Signs You’re Not Ready for Marriage—Even if You Say You Are

How to Manage Finances as a Married Couple

how to manage finances as a married couple

The topic of how to combine finances as a couple should always start with open and honest conversations. These ongoing conversations are essential as they will remove any uncertainty in engaged or newlywed couples and effectively weigh the pros and cons. 

When you discuss what your money style will be in your marriage, you can strike a healthy balance between autonomy and togetherness, too.  

There are three ways how to handle your finances as a couple. To find which will work for you and your partner, you must know how each works and consider the pros and cons. 

Here are some of the best ways to combine finances when married:

💸 Separate Accounts 

Having separate accounts is a good starting point if you haven’t thoroughly discussed how to merge your finances after marriage. This method is ideal if you’ve always managed your finances independently. It’s also recommended for couples who don’t have a lot of shared expenses.  

It also gives you autonomy in managing your money and a sense of security that you can access your funds anytime. It also fosters communication since you must consult your partner regularly about splitting or tracking joint expenditures and your long-term financial goals. 

Pros: It’s the ‘fairest’ money management method for couples since you’re fully responsible for managing your account. If you have any debts, you pay them off on your own, too. 

Cons: Financial management can be tedious when you must keep track of what the other owes monthly, especially if your life situation changes and expenditures grow. 

💸 Joint Accounts 

A joint account is recommended if you want to simplify money management. You just put everything you earn in one savings or checking account. Every bill gets paid out of that account. You can also track expenses quickly, as you can view all account activity in your monthly statement on your online account or mobile app. 

Pros: You don’t need to divvy up the money and pay for expenses assigned to you. As your family and expenses grow, you don’t need to change or adjust the financial set-up. It’s easier to track how your household is doing when it comes to spending and budgeting

Cons: Because all your saving and spending activities are there for each other to see, it can lead to disagreement, disappointment, or resentment if you’re not good with money. 

💸 Separate and Joint Accounts

how to manage finances as a married couple - separate and joint

If you want the autonomy of a separate account and the convenience of a joint account, why not have both? 

This method works by putting your income in one account that pays for the household bills, debts, and retirement contributions.

However, you and your partner also have separate accounts wherein you transfer a set amount for your personal use every month. 

Pros: You can easily monitor your finances and check whether you’re on track with the bills and your joint financial goals. More importantly, you have the liberty to spend money without seeking permission or discussing it with your partner. 

Cons: This method requires you to manage several bank accounts. Plus, it may turn off some people who feel like they’re only receiving a stipend or allowance. 

👉 Bonus: The 50-30-20 Rule

To manage your funds, you and your partner can follow the 50-30-20 budget rule,[1] which states that 50% of your income should be spent on your needs, 30% on your wants, and 20% on savings and debts. 

It’s a relatively simple rule that will help you effectively manage your money while paying for the essentials, saving for emergencies, and enjoying some wiggle room for recreation and a few luxuries. 

Read more: 

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to how to manage finances as a married couple, there’s no single best practice or solution that will work for everyone. But the great thing is that you have options. You can choose what fits your needs as a couple and your individual money management style. 

Learn each method’s pros and cons to choose what feels comfortable and natural. And once you decide how to merge your finances, don’t feel like you have to stick to that method forever. Make adjustments as your income and expenses change. 

Remember that setting up a separate or joint account doesn’t guarantee that there will be no conflicts about money. But it can make talking about the difficult topic of money easier. The important thing is to have honest, open, and solid communication for a healthy financial partnership. 

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Source: [1] The 50/30/20 Budget Rule Explained With Examples (Investopedia)

Rouselle has over eight years of writing experience in the personal finance niche. She has written feature stories, articles, and how-to guides on various personal finance and trending lifestyle topics. Before that, she briefly worked in banking and was a licensed life insurance advisor. When not writing, Rouselle likes to read books and binge-watch films and series. Follow Rouselle on Linkedin.


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