One Income, Separate Bank Accounts

For this married couple, individual accounts still works best.

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As part of my checking up on couples to see how their money systems have fared over the last year, I tracked down Dan and Kellie Mercurio, who had since moved from North Carolina to Massachusetts and had a baby girl, now 9-months-old. Dan has a new job overseeing bank branches and Kellie is a full-time mom to their daughter. Back in North Carolina, when both Dan, 30, and Kellie, 29, were working, they kept separate accounts for personal expenses, such as manicures or clothes. At the time, Dan explained,  "Having multiple accounts that serve different purposes is a good way to segment out record-keeping." Plus, they didn't need to check in with each other before making little splurges.

It turns out that shifting to a single-income and having a baby didn't change anything. The Mercurios still keep individual accounts, along with joint accounts for household expenses and savings. When Dan's paycheck comes in, he and Kellie allocate the money into the various accounts. (They also keep a custodial savings account for their daughter, which is where any checks from birthdays or other big events go.)

They have tightened their budget and use their separate accounts to help track where money is going. Dan says the system makes it easier for the family to save. "Because we allocate the money out, we put a certain amount into the bill pay account. So once the money is there, we don't touch it. The money in the other account is for day-to-day spending," he explains. For more, see:

  • Couples Say Separate Money is Better
    • Accountability: His and Hers
      • How to Manage Money in Marriage