In Sickness and in Wealth: Why Today’s Couples Keep Separate Accounts

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couple-making-budgetIt’s hard to find a more romantic topic than banking—but nearly every couple eventually faces the question: Should we combine our money or keep separate accounts?

According to a new survey by TD Bank, the answer is often “both.” Nearly half (42%) of couples with joint bank accounts also keep individual ones.

Independence was the most commonly cited reason for maintaining separate accounts, though women were more likely to value their financial freedom: 43% of women said independence was their top motivation, compared to 34% of men.

20% of couples said they kept separate accounts to make sure they have enough money for individual needs, including emergencies and personal spending. 16% reported convenience when budgeting and paying bills was a significant factor, though men were 38% more likely to say so. Only 7% of couples said they kept individual accounts to maintain their privacy.

The survey also found a number of generational differences in couples’ money habits. Millennials were more likely than older age groups to combine their finances before getting married: 70% of Millennial couples waited to exchange vows before opening a joint account, compared to 88% of duos 55 and older.

Right now, the implications of keeping separate accounts are a little unclear. Some researchers suggest couples are happiest when they combine most, if not all, their money. But those findings might not apply when couples are raising kids together, for example.

Like most money matters, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to joint banking. Our guide to combining finances with your partner explains how to find a system that works best for your relationship.