Maintaining a sense of financial independence is important for both your happiness and your money.
Many of the big life decisions you make substantially impact your finances. But one decision that yields arguably the largest financial consequences is marriage.
While everything from who to when you marry is important, today’s post will focus on what goes on after the fact.
While newlywed women have traditionally combined finances with their spouses, more progressive couples have paved the way for a different financial setup that involves partially or completely separate finances.
This approach is especially common with younger couples, who find that it’s helped them avoid spending squabbles.
I see separate finances as so much more than a mechanism for spending in peace. That’s why I encourage all women to have some money for themselves, even if it’s just a single account or card that’s separate from their spouse.
Why separating your finances is a good idea
Women who fully combine their finances with those of their partner lose their financial independence in the process. Even women who make substantial salaries can watch their sense of financial independence fade after trading all their individual accounts for joint ones.
Having your own financial accounts — even if it’s just one — helps you maintain financial independence in your marriage. Independence isn’t just good for you mentally; it’s also a way to protect yourself in case of divorce. No one enters a marriage anticipating it to fail, but the stark truth is 50% of marriages end in divorce. That said, setting up entirely independent finances could be a real possibility for you down the line and you’ll want to set yourself up for a less difficult transition.
Consider having your own credit that you regularly pay off — it’s an easy way to build your individual credit score in case things go awry. If you want to take things a few steps further, set up your own emergency fund and retirement accounts, independent of your spouse.
Beyond independence, having your own accounts can also mitigate any discomfort you feel around getting your partner’s approval for spending decisions or feeling judged for your spending habits.
Being married already entails consulting your spouse about all sorts of day-to-day decisions, but paying for a harmless massage or shopping trip shouldn’t be one of them.
So, what can having a separate bank account or credit card look like in practice?
You want to begin by defining what’s yours, mine, and ours with your partner. Agree on your financial setup and consider making things official with a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, depending on where you are in your marriage timeline.
Your separate finances can be as simple as having your own credit card for discretionary spending, like treating yourself to that pricey coffee shop or a designer pair of boots you’ve been eyeing.
However you go about separating your finances, make sure it’s a setup you feel good about.
Give your marriage a healthy dose of independence by separating your finances
Though it may seem frivolous, separating finances — even if partially for discretionary spending — is not pointless. It’s an effective way to maintain your financial independence in your marriage.
Need professional advice about more complex financial topics? Book a call today to talk to myself or another expert on our team about finances for women professionals.