Couples Say Separate Money is Better

The debate over whether to combine financial accounts or not continues.


I recently checked back in with two of the couples that I profiled in two stories on relationships and money -- specifically, whether it makes more sense to keep money separate or combine it. Now that more than a year has passed, I wanted to know: Were they still keeping their money separate? Had they made any adjustments to their approach?

The reasons for keeping at least some money separate are pretty obvious: Some couples enjoy the independence of their own "fun money" account, so they can splurge on golf or a pricey hair cut without checking in with their significant other. But marriage counselors, and some couples, often say that sharing everything suggests a joint approach that reflects well on the couples' ability to handle conflict and disagreements. The first couple, Pasha Carroll, 28, and Matthew Krise, 29, who live together in Chicago, were still keeping the majority of their money separate. They split rent, groceries and entertainment costs. If they buy a house, which they are thinking of doing, they will split the mortgage evenly. "It just makes sense to both contribute equally. We both work equally hard, Matt is in school and waiting tables, and I am still writing and tending bar. There is no reason for us to do it any other way," says Carroll.

Their system is obviously working well for them, because they had some exciting news to share: They're getting married in August. They plan to continue keeping their money separate.

The second couple, Gene and Bettina Donohue, profiled in the video that accompanies this story, was also still enjoying their arrangement to maintain separate credit cards on top of their shared overall accounts. Because the Vienna, Va.-based couple is focusing on their budget as they try to refinance their home, they use their individual credit cards for relatively minor purchases, such as Bettina's manicures. Gene, 38, a consultant, says one benefit of the separate system is the surprise factor. He had no idea what he was getting for Father's Day, for example. He adds that he and his wife never fight about money, since they use their separate accounts for such small items.

You can view the video featuring Gene and Bettina below:

 For more, see:

  • "How to Manage Money in Marriage"
    • "Living Together While Keeping Money Unmarried"
      • "Accountability: His and Hers"