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More Married Couples Using Separate Checking Accounts

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Couples used to say “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.”

That’s all changing when it comes to money, which is one of the key causes of disputes in relationships.

“No matter what level you are at, there is generally never quite enough for what everybody wants to do. So I would say that it is a rare couple when there isn’t some level of tension around spending,” Newton-based financial planner Dana Levit explained.

More couples say they’re calming things down by going their own way financially.

“Independence is important,” said one young woman waiting for a plane at Logan Airport.

A survey by American Express found 66 percent of married couples still have joint checking accounts, and 51 percent percent have joint savings.

One married man downplayed the benefits of splitting finances, believing it is important for him and his wife to make financial decisions together.

Levit is a proponent of keeping a degree of separation when it comes to money.

“I think there is nothing wrong with having your own accounts to pay your own bills because I think it just sort of takes out that tension of ‘Oh, you bought that pair of shoes’, or ‘Oh, you spent this money on this thing that I don’t approve of,’” said Levit.

To make it work, couples need to set some ground rules around issues like how much they will each contribute for groceries, utilities, and cable.

And then there’s the other spending, on more discretionary items.

American Express found couples setting a $300 threshold for what each person can spend without consultation. That’s up from $245 just two years ago.

It appears that banking choices are falling along generation lines.

“Definitely the younger generation, the 40 and under, I am seeing much more of a joint account and separate account, and I think that is just a matter of woman having their own money, marrying later, and sort of running their own finances,” added Levit.

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