Thursday, December 4, 2008

Should you share everything with your partner?

Okay we get that all advice to couples is that honesty and openness are always best. That's not even up for argument. If you want your relationship to be strong it's got to be open and honest, but that doesn't mean that you have to share everything.

Here's what I mean. When it comes to banking accounts couples can choose between joint accounts, shared accounts or a combination. There really is no right formula. My husband and I have been through every version possible. At times we've had only a joint account, or only separate, or a joint and separate. Currently we're back to only a joint account. We've tried all different combinations because at first we were trying to figure out what would work best. But our situations have changed over the years. At sometimes the arrangement work and during others they didn't.

He's a spender, I'm a saver. He knows that so I'm not giving away any embarrassing secrets. Our first join-only account arrangement was a disaster. Although we have different spending styles we are both disorganized. Back when we were newly married we were even worse. He'd be out spending merrily and I would, oh I don't be doing something crazy like paying bills and nothing was coordinated. So we were overdrawn all the time.

Then we moved to cash allowances with a joint account. That didn't work out so well either. I can't remember, but I think he always ran out of money and took from the account anyway. In hindsight this was not entirely his fault he probably needed a larger allowance. Maybe.

Then, oh heck, I can't even remember the sequence of things. I do remember the year we divided up the bills proportionally according to our earnings and went our separate financial ways. That was such a joy! No more fighting about who spent what or whatever. We lived in this bliss for several years. But when I decided to work independently we changed again. We're back to the original joint account. It's been working for several years. That's probably due to maturity, my tight fist, and online banking.

So I think when it comes to the Suze Ormans they definitely have good advice. Suze says to keep a joint account for paying bills, separate accounts for personal spending, and a joint savings vehicle. But don't be afraid to stray and play around with arrangements.

I still believe in the Suzes' advice to keep some things separate but not hidden. Have your own credit card, your own retirement fund, email, iTunes, computer login. A friend of mine even has her own bathroom--not just a sink. Just because you are a couple it doesn't mean that you always have to merge everything. You are still individuals.

Hey December is Engagement Month. More couple's become engaged in December than in February. And since this is a credit union blog--I'm going to take a look at the financials of love all week.

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