Merge Your Money Seamlessly

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Merge Your Money Seamlessly
Author Martha Baer does the math on sharing finances as a couple.

In Bader's own life, this balance translates directly into a style of banking that's recommended by many professionals: a joint account for household expenses and two separate accounts for private spending. What those separate accounts end up paying for, of course, varies from couple to couple.

Bader and her husband, for instance, pay for their clothes and recreational interests out of their private accounts. Monika's guy buys cigarettes. And a lot of couples spend a substantial portion of their personal funds on gifts for each other.

 

For many, in fact, the purity of giving is a key rationale for keeping those individual accounts. They feel that drawing money from a joint pool to pay for a gift dilutes or even destroys the gesture, not just by blurring the identity of the giver but by ruining the surprise.

David Bach, author of Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner, says of his wife, "If Michelle buys me a gift for mybirthday, I don't want to know what she pays for it." While others worry about knowing too little if they keep separate buckets, he worries about knowing too much if they don't.

But ultimately, in today's relationships, expert prescriptions make as much sense as calling my mother Herbie. Being wary of the pitfalls of multiple accounts is key: you don't want to get ripped off by your bank, you don't want your spouse copping drugs on the sly.

But our contemporary relationships—all the myriad, nuanced ways in which we come together and part, in which we meet, nest, forget, or don't—are blessedly free of assumptions and rules. Lovers weave their financial lives together in different ways to accommodate amazingly varied experiences and emotional needs.

So if it takes six accounts to sustain the magic of your union, or if three checkbooks is the best expression of your dreams and alternate selves, why not go with it? Sprinkle away, honey.