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Ask Dave

Dave's Take On Separate Checking Accounts

A Twitter listener asks how Dave feels about separate checking accounts. Dave doesn't believe in them when you're married.

QUESTION: A Twitter listener asks how Dave feels about separate checking accounts. Dave doesn’t believe in them when you’re married.

ANSWER: I don’t believe in separate checking accounts in a marriage. I don’t think you need to be independent when you’re married. That’s why they call it married. Independent is called single. If you want to be married, the preacher says, “And now you are one.” Having a single checking account forces you to make your financial decisions together and to be in heavy communication about all aspects of your life. It’s the only way to avoid bouncing checks otherwise.

We have one checking account at the Ramsey household. Just one. We have to be in communication about it or we’ll bounce checks. We have to have a written budget, and the budget dictates where the checks are written. That means that we’re not writing out checks for things we didn’t plan to. That way we don’t bounce checks, and Sharon and I are of one mind. We are unified. We’ve agreed on our goals. We’ve agreed on our passions. We’ve agreed on our fears. We are one more than when we tried to do things all separately.

When someone wants a separate checking account, that is a danger sign not to your money but to your relationship. There are a couple of possibilities there. One is they’re planning to leave. Two is they’ve already left and haven’t taken their body with them. The other possibility is that you’re such a financial control freak bully that she’s tired of being pushed around by you and wants to have some semblance of her own dignity because her vote does not count in the money discussion.

One checking account in your marriage forces you to cooperate, forces you to communicate, forces you to be of one mind, and creates a level of unity that is just plain weird. By the way, you will quit writing as many checks when you do this.