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Financial Feud

Financial Feud: Separate vs. Joint marital finances

Joy Smithson - Love and money expert Jun 27, 2013

I should tell you from the outset that I disagree with having separate bank accounts, except in extreme or unusual circumstances (e.g., one of you has a gambling problem). If you’re keeping separate accounts just because you have different budgeting styles, it could be that you and your wife are using this method to avoid having to discuss how you manage your finances.

It’s true that your debt is her debt, and vice versa. Likewise, income should be viewed the same way. Keeping separate accounts, however, forces the two of you to operate as though you are financially independent, even though you have obligations as a couple. If it’s fairness that you’re aiming for, try devising a budget that reflects your earning prowess equitably. For example, if she’s earning $75,000 and you’re earning $50,000 divide household expenses 60/40 so that you’re taking on an equitable share of expenses. Your remaining balance can be divvied up for discretionary spending.

Now, helping out family is another matter altogether, but one that I can’t ignore. There are a variety of reasons why it’s usually a bad idea to give money to family or friends (unless you can honestly say that it’s a gift and you aren’t looking for it to be repaid). In your situation specifically, you and your wife shouldn’t be giving anyone money until you are completely out of credit card debt and have a hefty emergency savings to boot. Brainstorm other ways the two of you can support her family without spending money that would otherwise go toward paying down your debt.

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