There’s No “I” in Team


If you have ever been involved in kids’ sports you’ve probably heard a coach say, “There’s No ‘I’ in Team”. There may be more than a kernel of truth in such a saying when it comes to family finances as well.

A recent Wall Street Journal article (Caitlin Nish, 10-29-12, R9) tells the story of two newlyweds, Sarah Henry-Courtney and her husband Daniel. They appear to have clear financial goals and the willpower to stay on track. With a combined income of $130,000 they have paid off all of their debt (student loans, cars, etc.) except the mortgage on their four-bedroom home in Bedford, New Hampshire.

One aspect of their financial arrangement, however, gave me pause for concern. They both have individual savings accounts to fund their hobbies. They have $3,000 in joint savings but Ms. Henry-Courtney, who likes travel and tennis, has nearly $10,000 in HER personal savings account. Mr. Courtney has about $5,000 in HIS savings account to indulge his love of technology and home-theatre.

It struck me as somewhat odd that they have separate savings accounts and that they have more in each of these accounts than they do in joint savings – if this works for the Courtney’s – good for them. But, this seems to violate the aforementioned axiom that there’s “No ‘I’ in team”. A good number of financial advisers and marriage counselors alike feel learning to jointly manage money is a “crucial step in becoming a fully functioning couple” (Divinecaroline.com, April 29, 2011).

Are separate savings and checking accounts the way to consummate a financial union? What are your thoughts on separate savings and checking accounts for married couples? I think a team approach and total transparency is the way to avoid financial tension (and secrets) in a marriage, but I know many of you might disagree. In fact, somewhere in the vicinity of one-third to nearly half of all couples have separate checking accounts. Dave Ramsey, if you’re reading this (long-shot), what’s your thoughts on separate savings and checking accounts?

One thing is for certain, be sure to check out any potential life-partner’s financial footprint BEFORE getting serious. Profligate spending and financial tomfoolery are major contributors to marital discord and divorce.

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11 Responses to There’s No “I” in Team

  1. Andrea Smith says:

    I agree with having a joint and a seperate account. I know that is how my parents do things and it seems to work. I do think that this couple should have more in the joint account than in their personal account, but I would like to have a sense of complete ownership to the money I worked for to spend it on what I’d like without getting to much grief from my future spouse about it. Then again, I’m not married so it’s possible that my views could change once I am.

  2. Connor Yearsley says:

    I think one would hope to trust their spouse enough not to be worried about having a joint account. I also think having a separate account in addition is probably a good idea though. Putting a prescribed amount of your income into the separate account and the rest into the joint account might be a good idea. The joint account could be used for things that affect both people, like paying bills, house repairs, insurance, family vacations, etc. The separate account would then be used for personal things, like hobbies, entertainment, personal car payments, etc.

  3. Blair Reed says:

    I agree. Separate accounts and one family account seems smart. Just as long each spouse has access to the other’s account. Not for security purposes or anything, just so there’s no dispute in that category. Trust would be the factor that keeps a spouse from snooping into the other account needlessly.

  4. Yuting Liang says:

    I am agree of the opinion. I think couple should know each other’s finicail and should aviod profligate spending and make finicail plan would be the most important thing to do in a family.

  5. Tri Pham says:

    I believe that the idea of having separate individual accounts in addition to a joint account to be brilliant. We are living in a modern, changing world, where some traditional values no longer hold water. Marriage has been report to end up in divorces 50% of the time, I don’t think the tradition method helped add to any of if. If for some reasons having separate account can help create some sense of idenpendence and privacy that can help prolong the marriage, then I believe such tactic is useful.

  6. Lyndsi Jewell says:

    Growing up, my parents have always had a joint account and that seemed to always work for them. My mom has always been a spender, and my dad is a saver, so the fact that they have a joint account helps them to manage the money better. I think that having a joint account with your spouse is the way to do it, because in the end, the money that each of you earns is to go towards the better of the family.

  7. Jordan Springfield says:

    Like Lyndsi, my parents have also had a joint account. Growing up that is what I’ve seen and understood. Not only is there no room for secrets, which a healthy marriage can not function off of anyways, but having a joint account provides better knowledge of how your money is being spent. I also believe, less complications arise through this. I think it is a great idea to have a joint account rather than separate ones, although if necessary, I agree with Blair’s comment of both spouses having access to check in on both accounts.

  8. Callie Jo says:

    I think the idea of separate checking accounts is absurd. That may work for some couples who can keep their hobbies and personal expenses separate and equal, but I just can’t imagine it not creating problems. You know the saying, “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health…” Essentially I believe the marriage ceremony represents the union of two people. Physically and spiritually. To me this means sharing everything from then on. I’ve learned, just in having a roommate that money can be a sensitive subject when we are concerned about our own ends. Having separate accounts for separate activities sounds suspicious. What are those activities one is not sharing with the other and why can’t they be shared. Having a joint account allows transparency within the relationship. In the Courtney’s relationship, I think they should agree on which matters need to be budgeted, together.

  9. Brandon Bambico says:

    I believe in the fact as marriage defined as a union. Therefore, I think everything should be considered as one, and only one unit. Having a separate bank account can seem okay at the time, but I think that eventually leads to confusion of whose money is whose, and future arguments. Having only one account leads to better trust and ease of keeping an estimate of your total savings,

  10. Elizabeth Temple says:

    I think having a joint and separate accounts is something that could make a marriage stronger. I understand it in the sense that the the joint account is the money to be spent on the family (groceries, bills, kids extracurricular activities) but then having the money that each spouse earned from dividends or whatever go into their separate accounts to buy things that may be something they want but would feel guilty spending the family money on. I see the pros and cons to both ways but I will probably choose to have a joint and a separate account when I get married.

  11. Krissy says:

    My parents have a joint checking account and like a few people have said that is what I have been used to and I always expected to do that when I get married. Even before you get married, I believe you need to talk about this and if there are issues figure them out. But like some people have said too, if there was a separate account between the couple to have access to see what they are spending or saving on.

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