An Argument For Keeping Separate Accounts When You Shack Up Or Marry

Unless you and your live-in lovah are perfectly compatible, you will fight about money at some point. Some couples find the common practice of sharing the same accounts to be suffocating and appreciate the relative freedom of maintaining discrete funds.

A Women’s Money Week post argues the virtues of keeping couples’ funds separate. The writer says the setup forces both partners to learn to be accountable and responsible with money and can make each person feel more comfortable about making financial decisions without clearing them with the ball and chain, reducing the amount of conflict.

The downsides come in deciding how to distribute the household’s collective income if one person makes a lot more than the other, as well as determining who pays which bills. There’s also the potential for financial abuse, if one person makes all the money and only metes out a small allowance to the jobless spouse.

A Case For Maintaining Separate Accounts [Women's Money Week]

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  1. Hoss says:

    Where’s the bowling connection?

  2. DevsAdvocate says:

    Easy solution: One joint account to cover rents, bills, and groceries that you both pay into directly via direct deposit. Then take the remainder of your income and keep it in separate accounts. If you two have a goal in mind, like buying a house, create another account just for that purpose, and agree to put in a certain percentage of your pay into it. Then create another direct deposit allotment for it. I don’t understand why most couples don’t do this… it gives you both your *own* money to spend, while ensuring the bills are paid and goals are met.

    • juggler314 says:

      I honestly don’t know why this isn’t the way *everyone* does it. Unless it’s suddenly the 1950’s and the man controls everything…wouldn’t you at least want to keep your money separate so you can buy presents/plan surprises/whatever. I truly can’t understand how one would completely share accounts.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        In my case, we used to keep things fairly separate and over the years, it all ended up being merged. The vast majority of our purchases are joint (especially gifts), so there’s really not much of an incentive to have any type of separate accounts.

        There have also been situations over the past 20 years where one of us made significantly more than the other. If things were separate, it would have been necessary to dole out an allowance of some sort. It was just easier to keep a common pool and then discuss extraneous purchases.

      • bee8boo8bop8 says:

        My husband doesn’t run our finances, I do. We have one set of accounts because it’s easier. In the course of our marriage, I’ve made more, he’s made more, I’ve been out of work, he’s been out of work. It’s easier for us if all the money is in one place. The only exception is our Roth IRAs, which are separate.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          This is really the best case for keeping a joint account. You never know when you might lose your job and not really have any money coming in and when it comes to being in a committed relationship, when crap happens, the other person has to be there for you. That includes financially.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s amusing to me that you assumed that in a joint account, the man would be controlling the money. Who’s in the 1950s again?

    • EdnasEdibles says:

      This is what my husband and I do. We have one joint credit card, one joint checking account and one joint savings account. Then we each have one card with just our own name on it and our own checking accounts. I put the bulk of my income into the joint account each month for household bills and about $500 a month into my own account to pay off my student loans and other assorted things (gifts for his birthday, gifts for my own friends that he doesn’t know, etc.) It’s been headache free for almost 10 years.

    • Murph1908 says:

      This is essentially how my wife and I do it.

      It’s nice to have my golf and other play money that I don’t need to clear with her. And she doesn’t need to be concerned about me with the money she spends on clothes and such.

      We also alternate paying for dinner out.

    • valthun says:

      This is how we did it as well. When we moved to a bigger place we adjusted our input into the joint account.

    • packy says:

      That’s how my wife and I do it, too, though it’s more like my salary (our biggest source of income) mostly goes into our joint account and I mete out a small allowance to myself.

    • babbottnz says:

      The wife and I used to argue about money. We complained about each others spend constantly so I decided to separate the funds and she transfers money into my account when bills are due. She still complains she can’t access my money or see where I spend it sometimes but it works out a hell of a lot better than it ever did trying to share. I don’t see this as common though, we’ve mentioned to other couples how we do it and they say it’s weird. Apparently marriage means sharing everything at all times. Yeah, right!

      • kgb says:

        My parents do this exact thing. My mom still accuses my dad of trying to rip her off each month.

  3. Chmeeee says:

    I would prefer having a joint account for shared expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, child expenses, etc), then each person keeps the rest of their income in their own account for their own use. Then you don’t have arguments about who pays for what shared expense and you also don’t have arguments about when one person decides they need a $600 camera or wants a $30k car.

    • Geekybiker says:

      Works okay if you earn about the same. That can lead to a whole lot of resentment if your earning power is very different. One spouse struggling to afford dinner out while the other is buying big screen TV’s.

  4. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    I don’t get what’s so hard about this. I make 2x what my wife makes. We totalled up all the monthly bills. I contribute 2/3 of that amount from my pay, she contributes 1/3, after taking 10% off the top of each of our checks for the savings account, The remaining money goes into our individual accounts to do with as we please.

    The only discussion we ever need is if there is an unanticipated household expense, so that we can kick in a little extra when needed.

  5. TuxthePenguin says:

    Or why not do what my wife and I do? We both agreed on our “monthly allowances” that are deducted from our paychecks ($200 a month for us). Everything else goes into the joint account.

    We can spend that money however we want… although right now we’re both individually broke – February and March are her and my birthdays, respectfully, and we’re both fairly tapped out after buying presents/meals.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      We do pretty much the same thing. In our budget, we have an amount set aside for more extraneous “entertainment” expenses. It’s never been an issue for us. It probably helps that our interests and hobbies are completely intertwined.

    • Not Given says:

      We have allowances but they are in cash. If I buy something for myself when I’m buying mostly household type stuff with a debit card, I take from my cash stash and put it in household petty cash and so does he.

  6. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    While I’m indifferent when it comes to married couples merging finances (my wife and I have joint everything), I think it’s a terrible idea to merge accounts when cohabitating.

    With divorce, there’s a whole legal system designed to separate assets and accounts. When you and your long term, non-married partner break up, you’re pretty much on your own. The break up is just as emotional and bitter as a divorce but without the legal framework to equitably make the split.

    • MrEvil says:

      In some states long term cohabitation that includes joint finances would be considered a common law marriage and would be eligible for divorce proceedings, it has happened in Texas where a common law wife divorced her partner without ever being formally married.

  7. Thyme for an edit button says:

    My fiance and I have set up a joint account for wedding expenses. When we’re married, we’ll have a joint account for our bills and joint savings for our savings goals. We’ll have separate accounts for fun money and saving for gifts for one another, but it we will each get an equal amount each month into our separate accounts.

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    If your SO is bad with money, and ends up having a judgement against her (having money yanked out of her bank account), it’s good to have YOUR monies untouched. That way the rent can still get paid.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Legally, is there a distinction between assets of married couples acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the account?

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        I think a judgement could possibly take from a spouse’s seperate bank account…but this is more advice for the “shack up” part of this story.

        • tinyhands says:

          IANAL, but it depends on the type of lawsuit. If it’s a civil suit against the individual person, both are typically liable. If it’s a civil suit against the individual acting on behalf of a business (either incorporated or LLP) then they can’t usually go after personal holdings, including those of the spouse. Laws here vary from state to state. I believe everything is fair game in criminal suits.

  9. DrPizza says:

    1 account, happily married for almost 23 years, zero arguments over finances.

    • homehome says:

      That’s great that worked for you guys, but there’s more than one way to run finances and be happy.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I think that’s the key — Do what works best for the relationship.

    • Sneeje says:

      Same here, but all approaches have downsides and potential for abuse. Part of the reason it worked for us is that we similar expectations with how finances will be handled–that will not be true for all.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        This is key. If you simply cannot come to an agreement as to how money should be spent, separate accounts may very well be in order with each spouse contributing a certain percentage of income to the bills.

    • bdgbill says:

      Seperate accounts. I pay the rent, she pays everything else. Been working great for 10 years. We still “lend” each other money.

  10. chefboyardee says:

    Man, posts like this make me feel lucky that neither my wife nor I are idiots and can trust each other with money. We have the same goals (not being broke) so it’s not difficult to accomplish. I can’t imagine or living with someone this bad with money!

    We get paid. It all goes into a joint account. We pay our bills, take our (low) allowances, and put the rest into savings, save for a little buffer in the checking account.

    When we want a major purchase (for example, today, I wanted a $400 jogging stroller) we discuss it, check our savings, and make the decision together.

    We save our receipts, enter them in a spreadsheet every few days (takes about 10 minutes a week) and at the beginning of every month we review our budget and our monthly bills and make sure we’re still on track for whatever our current goals are. We have columns for Food, Entertainment, Healthcare, Kids, Pets, Husband, Wife, etc. That way we know what we’re spending, where.

    We both have decent jobs, but nothing crazy. I clip coupons and drive a used car that is paid off. I take on freelance work, whether it’s in my field (computers) or if someone needs an extra pair of hands to move, care for their lawn, or whatever odd job I can get. I’ve sold things I no longer need, and through joint discussions with my wife when I want to buy something, have (many times) decided not to buy something I “wanted” only to realize a month later that I really didn’t want it that badly, I was only interested because it was new and/or shiny.

    3 years ago we were over $15k in debt and had both been laid off for months. Currently we have over $20k in savings. Being “good” with money is not hard if it’s a goal you actually have and not just pay lip service to. All it takes is focus and a little effort.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      We do pretty much the same thing.

      Though, we’re a bit more informal and don’t use spreadsheets. We keep a calender white board in the kitchen and track all of our expenses that way.

      • Yacko says:

        I agree, one account and you pay yourselves salaries or allowances however you want to put it. The key for the combined finances is that the fiscal health of the marriage comes first. Each week should be an affirmation of increasing net worth and the figures should be on paper. Then comes discretionary spending.

        As to spreadsheets or what not, there are scanners like Neat Receipts which allow you to scan all your financial papers, debit or credit. Do it! Also make sure you do multiple backups to various media, at least one of which is off-site in case of fire.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          We’ve been using the same system for 20 years, so I doubt we’ll change any time soon.

          We’re old fashion and keep paper copies of everything (we still reconcile receipts/statements by hand every month). I think the key is to be honest and realistic about what’s coming in and what’s going out.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      A jogging stroller? How long is a kid in a stroller, a year? Denied girlfriend!

    • BennieHannah says:

      I think the decision will vary depending upon the personalities and spending habits of the two involved. There’s no one right or wrong way to do it. My parents always maintained a joint account for paying necessary bills, and a joint investment account for accruing marital wealth, but they each kept a separate account so that they’d have the freedom to spend their “own” money without input from the other.

      My husband and I co-mingle everything. He makes most of the money and I manage all of it, simply because I’m great with money, and I have more time on my hands to pay bills, balance accounts, research purchases and investments, etc. But we’re both easy going, emotionally generous people. He always urges me to buy what I want because he knows I’m thrifty and responsible, and I urge him to buy what he wants, knowing the same thing. I DO worry what might happen if something happens to me. All of our accounts are jointly owned but he doesn’t really have a good idea of how our finances are laid out, passwords for online accounts and bill payment schedules and such.

    • Yomiko says:

      Your plan sounds awesome. Kudos. But regarding this:

      “We save our receipts, enter them in a spreadsheet every few days (takes about 10 minutes a week) and at the beginning of every month we review our budget and our monthly bills and make sure we’re still on track for whatever our current goals are. We have columns for Food, Entertainment, Healthcare, Kids, Pets, Husband, Wife, etc. That way we know what we’re spending, where.”

      Have you heard of Mint.com? It could eliminate your spreadsheet system, unless you’re spending mostly in cash. Even then, you can split up an ATM withdrawl into whatever you spent it on (e.g. $60 of Cash/ATM turns into $7 fast food, $13 hobbies, and $40 groceries). You can pull historical data and analyze spending and trends over time. You can even set and track goals. I am a big fan.

  11. dolemite says:

    This is what we do. I like to save and pay bills on time. Wife likes to spend money and toss bills into a “I’ll get to them one day pile”. She gives me money each week to help pay bills, and she buys groceries.

  12. wkm001 says:

    Oddly enough our pastor is also a lawyer, which covers some divorces. He gave us one piece of advice. 9 out of 10 couples that come through his office for a divorce do not share money.

    I could care less that I make more money than my wife. Our checks get deposited to our main account. We each have a “free spending” account. Each week $60 gets transferred to our free spending accounts for allowance. We can spend that money however we want. All other expenditures must be agreed upon by both of us. If either objects the purchase is not made.

  13. Gardius says:

    Most bank accounts in Canada don’t have annual fees, so what my fianc√©e and I are doing is maintaining 4 accounts. We each have our own personal savings accounts for the things that we want to buy for ourselves/each other. We then have 2 joint accounts: 1 chequeing for monthly bills and 1 savings for major purchases, vacations, etc. Our bi-weekly direct deposits go into the joint chequeing account. What is needed for bills/food remains in the account, a pre-determined % goes into the joint savings, and the rest gets transferred into the respective earners personal account. Works out great!

  14. SRK says:

    No married couple should have separate finances. As Dave Ramsey says, “The preacher didn’t say, ‘I now pronounce you a joint venture'” You are ONE. Be mature and handle your finances TOGETHER. Sure, it’ll take some cooperation and great communication, but that’s what marriage is about. What we do with our money show A LOT about what is in our heart. What does that say about keeping your monies divided?

  15. Smiley Massacre says:

    My wife and I are recently married but have been together for +9 years. We have always had separate accounts, as well as a joint account for paying off bills and savings. We just transfer over whatever funds into the joint. Been a great system so far and haven’t had any issues.

  16. Alan says:

    God, I’m so happy I have a frugal wife. Been married for about 4 years with joint accounts without any major fights over money.

    My suggestion is just to be completely open and honest with what you are spending and it shouldn’t matter if it’s joint or seperate. Once you start trying to hid purchases is when you get into trouble.

  17. bonzombiekitty says:

    I consider being married means you are essentially, one entity when it comes to finances. Any income my future wife makes is my income as well and vice-versa.

    I’m getting married in the summer and my plan for accounts is to go something like this:

    1. All income goes into a joint account.
    2. All joint & necessary expenses such as rent/mortgage, insurance, utilities, food, and loans (student loans included), etc are paid out of that joint account.
    3. Of the remaining money at the end of the month a percentage is left in that account so that we have a certain safety buffer there, a percent is moved into long terms savings, and we divide the remaining evenly to go into our own accounts to use for whatever we want (essentially an equal allowance).

    Of course there can be some grey area as to what is a joint expense. I do most of the cooking in the house, so does something like an expensive new food processor that will make cooking easier for me a joint or personal expense? Fiance may never use it directly, but she’d benefit from it fairly directly. But things like that would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

    • BHall says:

      You should pay yourself first; paychecks go into the savings account and then it cuts checking a weekly amount, you can then divide checking into fixed bills/expenses if you like.

  18. Package Man says:

    What’s the point of getting married if you’re going to lead separate lives?

  19. JohnDeere says:

    marriage means to co-own everything… anything else is just a business arrangement.

  20. wackydan says:

    Married eight years… one account… MINE. Wife demonstrated zero ability to manage money/debt before marriage, and chose quit her career soon after marriage… Why the hell would I be so stupid to have a joint account with her?

    Our method works… I had a credit card issued in her name on my account, and I get to see her household purchases. She still gets to splurge now and then, but until she has a full time decent paying job, the choice she made is the one she is stuck with.

  21. AtlantaCPA says:

    Once married your partner’s financial decisions affect you and vice versa (either directly like cash on hand not being enough or indirectly like a late paid bill hitting your credit report), so there is no such thing as “your money” and “her money.”

    That being said, I’m fine with separate accounts as long as there is agreement on how money is handled. Once there is agreement then it doesn’t matter if it comes out of one account (which is more convenient) or two.

    Basically I’m saying that the article is not getting at the root of it. If you and your partner don’t agree on how to handle money, having it in two or one account doesn’t matter, you’ll still fight. In fact having it in two accounts could make it worse IMO.

  22. sirwired says:

    There are plusses and minuses to each system of joint finances; it’s silly to argue that there is one “right” way of doing it. Different systems will be optimal for different couples.

  23. Step Away from the Mall says:

    We keep separate accounts, but mostly for asset protection purposes because we each own rental property from before our marriage. We do have one joint checking and one joint savings in which we deposit gifts, etc.

  24. Stormwalker says:

    I have never had a joint account with anyone. I’ve been with my wife for almost 12 years now, and we have separate bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. We’ve split up the bills proportionately to our income (I make twice as much). I like to have up to date financial information and expense tracking, all reconciled and so does she. I would need to get a transaction summary from her each day of checks written, credit card charges, etc, which would be rather burdensome. Especially when she spends part of the summer at the lake home 100 miles away. For both of us, maintaining separate accounts is much easier logistically. What works for our situation may not be best for another’s (particularly if the couple has children). Of course, according to the internet, our relationship is doomed for failure and we have a terrible marriage.

  25. yellowdog says:

    It really varies from couple to couple, you know? Especially when one makes considerably more than the other.

    For example, I make a lot more than my wife. After many years of trial and error, we have adopted a system where each of us is responsible for specific expenses. I handle all housing, vehicular, medical, and numerous other expenses. Every time I get paid, the bank transfers a budgeted amount over to her account, meant to take care of food, pet care, etc. She then pays for these categories out of her account, and if she wants to go outside the budget, it must come from her earnings.

    Had to do it this way because she tends to be very spendy, whereas I am more of a saver, careful with money. It may sound odd or sexist or whatever, but we’re both happy with the system, and it has nearly eliminated all the financial arguing that went on for many years.

    I think the key is, you both have to work together, have those uncomfortable discussions, hash things out, and come to an agreement. Otherwise, if you try to ignore financial issues, or (heaven forbid) start hiding money from each other or being passive-aggressive about finances, your relationship will be under constant strain.

  26. Reno Raines says:

    Separate accounts for us, we split all bills 50/50, and we have to discuss any purchase over $200 with the other person. The bills are paid from my account and she pays me her half. In five years we’ve moved from her making more money than me to I now make significantly more than her. That last time she complained about bills not being proportional I asked her what she would have done with all that extra money and the answer was basically “spend it”. I asked what she thought I was doing with all the money she’s “paid” me in five years. Reminded her (again) that I’ve never spent a dime of it, and asked how she wanted to proceed. Needless to say we are still using same system.

    Wives, what are you going to do (besides not have a joint account for her to plunder)?

    • Misha says:

      Wow, you two deserve each other.

      • Reno Raines says:

        You are right, we do deserve each other. We are two normal, functional, and emotionally stable adults with good jobs who understand that I am better with money and our financial success is mostly due to me having control over our finances. I’m very happy and so is she.

  27. crispyduck13 says:

    The only benefit for the combined bank account was the resulting ability to deposit all those checks from the wedding made out to Mr. & Mrs. Crispyduck.

    After 1 year of marriage and sharing the bank account with my husband who makes less than me I set up my own. I also moved all auto debits for bills/mortgage to my account so I can be sure nothing bounces because someone took $80 out of the ATM. This has helped me not so much to maintain finances but to maintain sanity and calm.

    If you are the type of person who likes to have control and find yourself unhappy with all the sharing that comes with marriage this is a really easy, low impact way to calm your nerves. EVERYONE told us we had to figure out “our” finances and combine them after the wedding. I think they did this because they were assuming we paid for things together, like the mortgage, car payments, insurance, etc. We don’t split each bill, we’ve divided the bills and each pay certain ones in full. He has maintained his old personal account from before the wedding and uses it to pay his share of the bills.

    Until I’m confident that things will work out I’m stashing any savings I can scrape together in my own account. Some people have told me that I’m going through my marriage with one foot out the door. I just call it being smart and looking out for yourself.

  28. TheWraithL98 says:

    Yeah this worked great in my marriage.

    My account became “our” account and my ex-wife’s account was her account, used for her own stuff. Note the whole ex-wife part – this was a contributing factor.

  29. IGetsAnOpinion says:

    My (now-ex) husband and I started out with joint accounts, but after many years of arguing over money, we split them up and had our own savings and checking. This worked fine, until the divorce. Turns out I was putting money into savings, he wasn’t. I had to give up half my savings account to him because married=joint everything in NJ. I hope his son enjoys the college education I’ve paid towards.

  30. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    As I slowly try to extricate myself from the hell my life has become, I can look back and see all the mistakes I made. I never realized there were people like my husband in the world, who are compulsive gamblers, like buying lottery tickets, playing poker machines, etc. I’m not talking a few times here and there like a normal person, I’m talking “clear out the bank accounts go down the road into bankruptcy” gambling.

    He was very good at hiding what was going on with the money. For a while, I was convinced there was another family somewhere. He lied like the Grinch, and when I finally figured out what was going on, he had run up 10’s of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. He often got home before me, so he threw away the statements and fielded phone calls for as long as he could. He also just went to the ATM and would clear out the checking account, without regard to checks already written.

    Fast forward to today: there are no more joint accounts. It took me nearly 10 years to dig out of the hole he created. I can finally afford to move out and be on my own, although I am pissed that I have to leave the house I bought because he’s an ass. I told him I wanted a divorce, and I wanted him to leave, and the first words out of his mouth were “what will I do? What about me?”

    I hold out hope that I will meet someone someday who will appreciate me and see me as something other than an ATM machine. I can’t say whether I will ever share a bank account with anyone again.

  31. jiubreyn says:

    My boyfriend and I are in this type of situation. I bring home more than he does due to child support payments. We have separate accounts and one join account for bills. Since the amount we bring home is not the same we split the bills up by percentages instead of 50/50.

  32. Sad Sam says:

    Married, we do the hers, his, ours method of accounts. All money that comes into our household is our money, including money from job, rent money, investment money, bonus money. I make more than Mr. Sam. I pay all the bills and allocate money to savings (we set up our savings goals each year together). We each get an allowance, the same amount and that money goes to our individual accounts. If one is good with one’s allowance you can save up for something outside the annual spending plan (our form of a budget). We keep the separate accounts b/c its just easier not to have both of us pulling from the same joint household account.

    Five years ago we paid off all unsecured debt $55,500 using this plan and this year we are trying to save $69,000 using this plan. Works pretty good and its great that we are on the same page. http://adventures-of-sam.blogspot.com/

  33. chiieddy says:

    My husband and I do this. We work out or joint expenses and then each put a percentage of our actual (after taxes and 401k and health insurance) income into the account to make sure we hit it. It’s worked well for us since we moved in together. We have our personal accounts for gifts and personal expenses and just don’t argue about that stuff.

  34. kataisa says:

    I think most couples keep a separate stash of money hidden away somewhere, just in case. At least the smart ones do.

    There’s also a good argument to be made for spouses sleeping in separate beds. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to sleep night after night with someone who snores or otherwise makes it difficult for you to get some shut-eye.

  35. NumberSix says:

    My account has always been separate. Her money, my money; no conflict ever in 20 years.

  36. jerry101 says:

    Poop.

  37. TouchMyMonkey says:

    The best reason to have separate accounts – it’s a lot easier to keep track of a checking account when only one person is writing checks against it. We would, from time to time, bounce a check or two. Paying $35 a check pissed us off enough, but then my commander got wind of it (bounced a couple checks at the PX – did I mention I was in the Army at the time?) and sent me to remedial checkbook management class. Me and a whole classroom full of complete idiots who couldn’t add two and two and get the same number twice in a row. That was it. Separate accounts from then on.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Isn’t it just easier to stop writing checks unless you have to? We only use checks for one thing: rent.

  38. bobloblaw says:

    ok, i’ve read almost all of these comments and let me just say this- according to the law, if you are married, its not ‘his’ and ‘hers’ it’s BOTH OF YOURS. depending on your state, if you divorce your shared property is decided either a) equally in some states, as in, 50/50, or fairly in other states, as in NY, where if you cant decide a judge will decide for you (http://www.divorceattorneysofnyc.com/nyc-divorce/division-of-assets/).

    so, keep your separate checking accounts if you want, but in the end – your spouse will get your $$ anyway. unless you outlive her, that is. then… you win!

  39. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I don’t mind having to clear things with the old ball and chain. Working together and compromising are a part of marriage. We also don’t fight about money, so it’s easy for us. Having an allowance each month helps with that part.

  40. maztec says:

    If you are looking to immigrate, ignore this advice completely. You need to have a joint account and it needs to be the primary account that all of your bills and money go in and out from. Otherwise, immigration will just assume you are not commingling your assets and, “All real American couples commingle their assets.” Yah, bogus, but it is the rule.