Money Talks, So Should You

This That and the MBA: Married, but moving to separate checking accounts

by Christopher, Dimespring 30 (@thsthtandthemba)

As usually happens when you become one, you begin combining your assets and your bank accounts. Well that is at least what my wife and I did. She did not have a job before we were married so it was relatively easy to combine our finances.

This worked great for the first 10 years we were together, but recently she has gotten a job and it’s thrown a wrench in our budgeting. I know it is easier when there is just one person’s income to control, and two incomes have proven a real challenge. Making things even more difficult is the fact that she is a spender and I am a saver. Recently we’ve come up with a solution: separate checking accounts.

READ: How do you divide the "fun money" in your marriage?

The reasoning

As a finance blogger, I am in tune with our finances; I know exactly what is going in and what is going out. While I do not regularly balance my checkbook, I always know how much is in the account within $5.

Being married was an adjustment, as I was just used to saving and not spending too much money. The one exception was that before we got married, I went on a spending spree and bought my future wife a car and some furniture in anticipation of our union.  Since we got married, I have had to adjust to my wife's spending habits and incorporate them into an already tight budget. Since I have been responsible for all the bills, she really has not had to deal with any of that, but it is all about to change.

I am hoping that when she is responsible for her share of the bills and the money she will become savvier and realize spending all you earn is not feasible for long term. I know we all go through spending sprees and that is fine, but I am trying to help her and I become better with our money.

Paying down debt

We doubled our salary last year when my wife went to work, so you would think it would have been really easy to knock down our bills and pay off anything that we owed. Boy was I wrong. Our student loans started up and we were in the same situation, even though we had twice the money. Not being able to make a dent in our debt is a major reason we’re going our separate ways when it comes to bank accounts.

READ: Why both spouses should be involved in the finances

Debt and trying to get rid of it has been my goal since we had our first child. When we got married and had kids, my wife didn’t work. Sure we got into some debt to finance our new family, but who doesn’t have debt?  We thought it would be beneficial for my wife to stay home with our children while they are small since you can never get back those precious years.

We’re trying to get back on track with a new debt repayment and savings system worked into our separate accounts. What we decided to do is have an automatic deduction set up that will regularly take out a portion of the money in each account and put it directly into savings. We are going to call it another bill for the sake of our scenario, as this will help us put together a savings plan. This is all a mindset that you need to get into when you are working to pay down debt.

The amount each one of us contributes to the savings account will be based on take-home pay; we did a percent-to-total to calculate a percentage of the bills she would be responsible for. This put us at an even playing field even though I make more than her. 

Splitting bills

We will also each be responsible for paying certain bills on our own. I believe that having my wife responsible for a portion of the bills will help her see what is going in and out.  We have been struggling to find a happy medium where she could make an impact and this is how we decided to proceed. We may go back into a joint account in the future once we get our finances under control.

READ: 4 questions to ask before decidiing to live on one income

Many of the bills that she is responsible for are bills for things she has been spending a little frivolously on. She is responsible for groceries, her student loans and utilities. I am responsible for mortgage, solid waste bill, my student loans and our credit cards. For the past few years, we have not used our credit cards, but we are still working on paying them down.

She was in agreement with the split and this May will be the first month we move forward with this methodology.

How do you and your significant other handle situations like this?  We are terrible at keeping each other accountable and thought having our own accounts and responsibilities would be the best route for our situation.


Christopher is the mastermind behind This That and the MBA. He is a 30-year-old, happily married guy who just wants to provide the best that he can for his family. He works in non-profit accounting and his blog gives him a voice to share whatever is on his mind and keep what he learned in the MBA program fresh in his head. He has two daughters, who are the loves of his life, and he doesn't know what he did with all his free time before they came along. His mantra is: Manage your money before it manages you! Christopher is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.