This is something I’ve posted elsewhere as comments, but thought I would aggregate the ideas here as a good reference document. And of course my disclosure: I’m married and we have combined funds.
The biggest reason I see on keeping things separate is spending on indulgences, either a person’s own or their Significant Others. I’d like to ask about the psychology behind that. Given the word choice and descriptions, it often seems these purchases would be outside what is considered normal living expenses: books, trips, movies, whatever. … I guess my confusion is why would you have to justify the purchases? Now before people say “that’s why we have separate accounts, so we don’t justify” I’m not asking that. My curiosity focuses on why one would expect that question to be asked in the first place. Do you think that you should be putting more money into the common pot? Or maybe your SO should be helping more?
At the same time there is a form of … separation. But that’s not the right word. Maybe deniability is better? Effectively it’s a way to distance yourself from what you think is wrong?
I’m just looking for insight tis why I ask. I know the limitations of my own experiences and always enjoying learning from others. In my wife and I’s case, we both have the mindset of being cheap for item’s for ourself while enjoying to treat the other. This occurred not only during dating but here and now in our first few years of marriage. So if one of us buys something there is definite cause of need. And we communicate for practically everything. If its over $100, just check base with the other. We have yet had any potential purchase where someone vetoed, its a good safety to check. Somewhat of 2nd party 5 second rule.
Another thought that I’ve had about the subject is a different take on paying bills separately. When you pay for a service yourself from personal money, it’s easy to create the thought it’s a subset of yours. If you work in a cube farm think about your computer. It’s not really yours. It’s owned by something larger. But you’ve probably generated a feeling of ownership since you use it regularly and without sharing.
Similarly running a household, or even raising a child, is something that is bigger than either person. If all of the child’s medical bills get paid from one account instead of another does that mean they have more claim on the kid? How about paying the mortgage? Is the house yours as singular or plural?
Given the fact that I won’t, and can’t, say what is right or wrong this is all my IMHO. To those that want their own mad money, I think there is one method I have seen that allows it within the this structure. Provide each an “allowance” out of the a main fund. That way it still provides the central account and goal you (plural) are working towards. At the same time the symbolism is important: You are both getting your “income” from the communal pool.
And I do want to say that what happened to some sucks. You trust your partner and what do they do? They wipe out the accounts and run with the money. Hopefully courts are able to ‘repair’ that, in a relatively short time. And I have no answer on how to either prevent that. I think it’s … the inherent weakness of being trusting of another person, be it a husband, wife, parent, heck even accountant.