Financial Transparency - 4 Things I Learned About Marital Money When I Was Single

I was 43 when Keith and I got married. When my 40th birthday came and went without any prospects I decided to settle in to the single life. I met Keith at church just a few months later.

Even though I had given up on the idea, marriage was something I had always desired.

For years I secretly studied married couples and made mental notes of the things I wanted in my own marriage (and the things I did not).

I asked questions of the women I felt vulnerable enough with to share my research and quietly watched other couples from a distance.

I learned a lot. And a good bit of it had to do with money.

From my studies, I found 4 things that fiscally healthy and happy married couples have in common. A few of them may surprise you!

1. Joint checking accounts. One of the main things I discovered about fiscally healthy married couples was that they had joint checking accounts.

Genesis 2:22-24 speaks of a man leaving his father and mother and becoming one with his wife. This goes far beyond just moving in together, but also joining all aspects of life (including finances). It signifies a true coming together when a couple puts aside their single mindset about money and combines their money into one account. But it's only the beginning.

With a joint account, chances are greater that the couple will be on the same page about their money, including how it's spent. They also lay the foundation for more open financial communication. There is also greater trust and more transparency for couples who combine their money.

2. No other single accounts.  But even some couples with joint accounts sometimes fall into the single trap.

We see it a lot with our financial coaching clients and our Financial Peace University class members. but it goes against what I discovered during my research. I'm talking about the separate checking accounts in addition to the joint account.

Many couples each deposit some of their income into a joint account but keep the rest of the income in their separate account to manage on their own. It basically takes the concept of marital money backwards. It becomes "roommate" money.

Our daughter asked me one day if I would have a separate bathroom when we finally purchased our own home. She couldn't understand why I would want to willingly share a bathroom with "Daddy" having had to share a bathroom her entire life with her brother.

I told her that I would indeed share a bathroom with Keith when we purchased our new home. To do otherwise would simply make us roommates!

The same is true with combining ALL income when married. Until a couple truly combines every aspect of their finances, they are still mentally single. The concept of "for richer or poorer" applies to all income...all debt...all wealth...all crises.

I'm not the only one who believes this. Dave Ramsey has written about it. Blogger Jeremy Roloff did a great post on it. And millionaire researcher Thomas J. Stanley spent a great deal of time discussing it in his book "The Millionaire Next Door". 

The bottom line is this...if couples truly want to be fiscally healthy and happy, all accounts will be joint accounts, with no "just in case" accounts.

3.  Pronoun change. This one was tougher for me that I thought it would be. I was okay with combining our income, but I had a REALLY hard time owning Keith's student loan debt.

This was especially hard after we had paid off everything except for HIS student loans. That's how I saw it...HIS student loans were keeping us from buying a home...HIS student loans were preventing us from taking a vacation...HIS student loans were limiting our entertainment and life choices.

It was so bad, the Holy Spirit had to step in and remind me that when I said "I do," HIS student loans became MY student loans. (That was a quiet devotional morning!)

It took me awhile to fully embrace it and scripture helped. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor." After meditating on that for a few days and praying for the Lord to clean up my attitude, I took it to heart.  

Now WE are down to $24,000 left on OUR debt snowball and will be debt free in the next few months.

Changing my pronouns did wonders for our marital money and was the final step in us both resolving to be on one accord financially.

4. No hiding. One of the things I vowed I would not do when I got married was hide purchases. I heard countless wives talk about sneaking shopping bags into the house so their husbands would not know about their purchases.

Want to create a money fight in your house? Hide money from your spouse!
Tweet: @lisayjoneslyj "Want to create a money fight in your house? Hide money from your spouse!"

Several of our FPU class members talked about buying groceries and getting cash back in order to quietly put aside money without their spouse knowing about it (guys do this also).

Want to create a money fight in your house? Hide money from your spouse!

It breaks down trust in a major way and is actually called financial infidelity. WHOA!

That's a heavy term. The Money Couple, Scott and Bethany Palmer wrote an entire book about it. That's how important it is to understand.

So there you have it.

The 4 things I learned about marital money while I was single. I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this one!

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Until next encouraged.