Every married couple has to decide how to make their household work. It can be challenging enough to figure out the small details like who will be in charge of laundry and dishes or who cares for the lawn and garden. But what about money? That's where things get interesting. Many couples combine their finances and pay all bills and expenses out of joint accounts. Others keep separate finances or take on a hybrid approach. But is that the best way?
According to research referenced in Bloomberg View, couples who pool all their resources report a higher level of happiness within their relationship than those who don't. Couples who pooled most of their money were happier as well. For example, couples who pooled 80 percent of their money were happier than those who pooled 70 percent, and so on. It's hard to say why this is the case, but some experts believe couples who share their finances just have less to argue about.
Say 'I Don't' to Toxic Money Arguments
If having joint finances means adding less fuel to the fire, then most people would say that's a good thing. This is especially true when you consider the growing body of research that shows money arguments can be lethal to a marriage. For example, arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce, according to a study last year by Sonya Britt, director of personal financial planning at Kansas State University.
"It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money -- for both men and women," Britt wrote in a press release. The findings held up even when accounting for income and net worth, according to the study of more than 4,500 couples. And unfortunately, those money arguments die a slow death in most relationships, if they even die at all.
"You can measure people's money arguments when they are very first married," Britt said. "It doesn't matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and already arguing about money, there is a good chance they are going to have poor relationship satisfaction."
4 Ways Joint Finances Can Improve Your Marriage
Research shows that money arguments get ugly -- and stay ugly -- more often than not. But, what if you could avoid these types of arguments altogether or at least limit them? If you're on the fence about combining finances when you get married, consider these benefits:
1. No haggling with each other. When you have separate accounts, you have to negotiate who is going to pay each bill or how to split them in a fair way. On the other hand, having joint accounts allows you to avoid the awkwardness of haggling with your spouse by handling all bills and expenses jointly.
2. Dream together, save together. When you've committed your life to another person, you've committed to building a future, and perhaps even a family, with your one true love. Having joint finances means chasing down dreams together and pooling your resources to make those dreams come true.
3. Joint finances build a sense of teamwork. You know the saying, there's no "I" in "Team." Well, nothing says you're out for yourself more than keeping separate score cards from the get-go. But it doesn't have to be that way. Having joint finances helps you grow as a team by forcing you to create joint goals and work together to achieve them.
4. The beauty of complete transparency. Having joint finances means you truly have nothing to hide. When all money is in one pot, you are forced to be accountable to one another and compromise on any money issues that might arise.
Money issues can make or break a relationship, and it's easy to see why pooling your money could lead to more happiness and contentment within your marriage. After all, marriage isn't just about the union of two souls; it's about becoming a family and sharing your joint goals and dreams. So, put away your separate checkbook, and bring your marriage to the next level by proving you're a team in every sense of the word. Saying 'I do' to joint finances is the perfect way to do just that.
Holly Johnson is the founder of personal finance website, Club Thrifty, which provides tips for frugal living, budgeting, and more. Holly also writes about frugality and travel at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and her other website, Travel Blue Book.
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