Should couples keep separate bank accounts?


Kimberly Clouse, Private Client Advocate and Chair of Covestor’s Advisory Board, was recently interviewed by MainStreet for an article about whether couples should maintain separate bank accounts.

She tells MainStreet:

Many couples maintain separate accounts for emotional and psychological reasons, said Kimberly Clouse, advisory board chair of Covestor, an online marketplace for investing based in Boston and London.

For couples who marry later in life, keeping separate checking accounts can help each spouse maintain some sense of autonomy in their economic partnership, she said. The responsibility of who is paying the bills varies, but couples often contribute to expenses in proportion to their income, she said.

“If one spouse earns more income than the other, the higher-earning spouse would pay a higher percentage of the family’s bills,” Clouse said.

Couples who come to the marriage with very different spending styles and levels of financial discipline also benefit from keeping accounts separate, she said. Separate accounts can reduce the tension surrounding different spending styles.

“Imagine that one spouse makes a number of small purchases throughout the year while the other makes a few large purchases,” Clouse said. “The financial cost may be the same in both cases, but the frequency of spending might be an issue for one spouse or the magnitude of the large ticket items might be an issue for the other.”

Most couples are likely to also have different styles when it comes to investing their money – perhaps one spouse is a conservative investor while the other likes to invest in high-flying stocks that they heard about at a cocktail party, she said.

“Reconciling these two approaches in one portfolio strategy would be tough, to say the least,” Clouse said. “In these cases, couples may benefit from allocating their investment assets into three buckets: ‘his, hers and ours.'”

Read the full article at MainStreet.