Approved by a 8-0 vote of the Scroll editorial board. Abstained by 2 members.
Did you know that more millennial married couples are choosing to keep their bank accounts separate than baby boomer married couples?
A report Bank of America put out this last winter showed that 28 percent of millennials are choosing to keep their finances separate compared to 13 percent of baby boomers who keep their finances separate.
According to a recent article in HuffPost, some of the reasons this percentage has gone up is because it is easier; couples enjoy their independence, and they have different money management styles.
We, at Scroll, believe these reasons, while they have some merit, are excuses and not based on fact. The choice to keep bank accounts separate or joint should be based on the individuals, not these excuses. However, the couple should not be secretive about their finances if the choice is to keep them separate.
The first reason brought up in the HuffPost’s article talked about how keeping separate accounts is easier and how the motivation for that is pure laziness. A marriage will not be successful if it is based on laziness between one or both partners.
Laziness in a marriage looks like cohabitation.
A study conducted by The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia found that out of the 1,000 Americans studied (that were in a relationship), 418 of them got married over the course of five years.
Of those couples who married, 37 percent of them just slid into cohabitation while 63 percent of them made the decision together and deliberately talked about it. Those who just “fell” into cohabitation were less likely to report bliss after marriage.
Couples are skipping this crucial step because they do not recognize the importance of deliberately deciding to live together rather than just falling into cohabitation.
“Some likely do not recognize the importance and think there is no big deal about cohabiting,” said Scott Stanley, an author of the University of Virginia study and co‑director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.
Stanley also explained the intentional avoidance of such talks regarding the marriage decision. This is due to fear or difficulty of these conversations.
We are avoiding conversations like cohabitation and finances even though they have been proven to strengthen our marriages because of a human’s inherent laziness or desire to take the easy way out.
Taking the easy way out is a dangerous way to go in life, especially in marriages.
But is independence in a relationship taking the easy way out? To me, it is.
Dave Ramsey, a businessman and an author of financial help books, talked about issues with independence and finances in a marriage.
“The second reason that I most often see people want to separate their finances is an unhealthy level of independence,” Ramsey said. “The very nature of a quality marriage is that you are interdependent.”
What does it mean to be interdependent, and why is that important in a marriage?
The definition of interdependent is two or more people who are dependent on each other.
Married couples cannot be both interdependent and independent when it comes to finances.
When you make the decision to marry another person, you make the decision to include that person in all walks of your life, even in finances.
Whether that means you decide to share a bank account or share information about your bank account with your partner, you need to find a way to make that aspect of your married life interdependent.
Justin Lavner, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, conducted a study to better understand the role and importance of interdependence in a marriage.
“I think these findings point to the fact that getting married is an exciting time for couples, but is also one that may involve some adjusting to new living arrangements, increased levels of interdependence and in some cases a coming to terms with the fact that the idealized marriage may not be the actual marriage,” Lavner said about his research findings.
Marriage is selfless. Marriage is adjustment. Marriage is interdependent. Marriage is not easy. If marriage is all of these things, shouldn’t finances reflect this?
Marriage is also a collaboration between the two parties. Collaborating on money management is one of those things.
Jeffrey Dew from the National Marriage Project said married couples who argue about money and finances at least once a week are more likely to divorce over time than couples who argue about it only a few times a month.
If these couples who argue more than usual were to collaborate and have an open mind about each other’s money management, then the arguments would be few and far between.
Remember, marriage is an adjustment. In order to collaborate, you must adjust to the other person’s needs, and they must adjust to yours.
According to Psychology Today, “Formulating with your partner a viable financial plan, paying attention to patterns of financial discontent, initiating conversations early to resolve differences, and seeking financial or couples counseling when needed are some of the keys to maintaining financial peace.”
The choice of how to share finances in a marriage should be based on the couple. In some cases, a couple would want to keep their bank accounts separate. This could be in cases of a partner’s addiction or excessive spending habits.
However, if there is not a reason that truly prohibits the couple from succeeding in finances, then the couple should join their bank accounts. To truly know whether or not to keep a separate or joint bank account is based on the couple’s decision and no one else.
However, the couple should take that difficult step to talk about how to manage those finances instead of taking the easy way out.
As BYU-Idaho students, we should start preparing for maintaining finances in marriage by being smart with our money and budgeting correctly. Another thing we can do is think about each purchase we make and how they would affect another person if we did have someone there to think about.
Even if you are not married or not even close to marriage, it is still smart to start today if that is something that you desire.
Cohabitation is laziness. Marriage is interdependence. Marriage is collaboration. Remind yourself what you are getting into before taking that step.