Interviews

Should married couples have separate or joint bank accounts?

More couples using individual bank accounts

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHARLES PAYNE, GUEST HOST: So you thought marriage was all about sharing? Well, not when it comes to bank accounts. Turns out more and more couples are keeping their money separate these days, and with finances being the top reasons for fights.

Larry Winget says joint accounts are the way to go. But psychotherapist Karen Ruskin says not so.

Doctor, explain.

DR. KAREN RUSKIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Having the same account is really important, because it's symbolic for the marriage, for how you feel about your spouse. Do you trust them? Do you feel there's going to be a long-term future? Are you loyal? You are committed? Are you a unit? Are you a team? Do you work together effectively? Do you have good communication skills?

You don't have a bank account that is together, you're basically saying, all of these items, you do not trust your spouse. And that is actually symbolic for other areas of your marriage.

PAYNE: And, Larry, that's also the point when you say, by the way, the answer is no to all of that and say a prenup right there.

(LAUGHTER)

LARRY WINGET, FOUNDER, LARRYWINGET.COM: Listen, I believe that you should have a joint account for household expenses. But I believe that if you only have one account, that you are pushing people into financial infidelity by putting them in a situation where they never get to have any of their own money. I believe in your money, my money, and our money. Pay the household expenses, but don't force people to lie and hide their money. Let them have some of their own.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: What happens, Larry, if only one person in the house works?

RUSKIN: Lying is a choice.

(CROSSTALK)

WINGET: I didn't hear you, Charles.

RUSKIN: See, that's a -- that's a really great example.

So, if one person in the house works and you have a separate account, that doesn't work, because now we're walking power and control issues, which is once again why having the same account is imperative, because now you are looking to one another and you're recognizing and appreciating and valuing what each person brings to the table.

One person making more money does not infer that they are contributing more or less to the marriage.

PAYNE: Larry?

WINGET: I will agree with you on that. However...

RUSKIN: Thank you.

WINGET: ... if you don't allow people to have some of their very own money that they can go out and spend any way they want to -- I don't care whether it is $10 or $10,000 -- once the household expenses are paid, people have the right to their own money.

Otherwise, you are going to force them into a situation where they are not going to trust and they are going to have cheat with their money and lie about where they spend it and where it goes. You don't want to put people in that situation.

RUSKIN: No.

(CROSSTALK)

WINGET: If there's any place you're going to lie, it's going to be about your money.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: Let me stop for one second.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: Dr. Ruskin, are you not being honest in this day and age about failed marriages and -- and human -- and human behavior?

You're a psychotherapist. You're not being -- I don't -- it doesn't feel like you are being honest about the current circumstances...

RUSKIN: Let...

PAYNE: ... we live in.

RUSKIN: No. Incorrect.

So, I have been a marriage therapist for 20 years. And I will tell you that as a marriage therapist working with couples, if couples are unable to spend money on their own while they have the same account, then there is a bigger problem at hand.

You can still spend on things that you want even when you have the same account. Nobody owns you. This is about effective communication. And this has become such a disposable society...

PAYNE: Right. Right.

RUSKIN: ... where, by separating accounts, you are basically saying, we can't work together effectively. Oh well.

(CROSSTALK)

WINGET: Living in a dream world.

PAYNE: Larry, we have got 30 seconds left.

You have helped people just as long as the doctor has, on the financial side of this.

WINGET: Right.

And I believe you are living in the dream world if you expect that people will never -- will always share all the ways they spend their money. I think it is reasonable to expect people to come together and communicate in terms of what they owe together and what they spend on household expenses together. But I think it should be allowed for people to have their own private money to spend any way they want to.

Remember that the number one cause of divorce is money.

RUSKIN: Couples who have the same account are much more successful. Couples who have the same account are more successful.

WINGET: And the number one thing people will lie about is their money.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: All right, guys.

WINGET: Don't put them in that situation.

PAYNE: We're going to leave it right there.

RUSKIN: Emotionally and in marriage long-term, they are more successful when they have the same account.

PAYNE: All right, well, I would like to see the data on that.

WINGET: Wrong.

PAYNE: Hey, guys, you were fantastic. Really Appreciate it.

RUSKIN: Thank you.

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