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I Worry a Joint Bank Account Will Lead to Judging

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I Worry a Joint Bank Account Will Lead to Judging

Dear Penny,

My wife wants to combine our finances. We already have a joint savings account, and it totally makes sense. But I sort of like being able to splurge on dumb stuff from time to time, e.g., gas station taquitos and a beer. I know she’s going to totally judge me for stuff like that. How should I handle this?


Dear A.,

A lot of couples find themselves in this spot sometime after getting married: You have one joint account for big purchases or household expenses, and everything else just gets sort of… lost.

Maybe the hardest part of figuring out how to combine finances is to avoid getting defensive. Like you. Right now. How many taquitos are you buying? How many gas stations are you visiting? How often? What’s at the core of your secret taquito habit?

Please trust me when I say that your wife makes plenty of questionable purchases herself. If she can’t admit that, she’s lying not only to you but also to herself. That’s not to say that those expenditures aren’t worth it to her. It’s just that we all spend money on things that offer a temporary thrill or hold promise but ultimately turn out lackluster.

So that’s the first step. Know and accept that there are going to be some wackadoodle charges on your bank statement each month. Know that you can talk about these allegedly wackadoodle charges. By trying to be vulnerable and talking about your purchases, you’ll learn to judge a little less as your trust in each other strengthens.

But you don’t have to combine 100 percent of your money to share a robust financial future. Consider each of you keeping a checking account for yourself. It’s easy to funnel a percentage of your income into that account with the joint understanding that it’s for personal expenses.

You can nail down what exactly falls under personal — gifts for each other, fancy coffees, taquitos — or leave it open to interpretation. But since it’s a limited amount, you can feel free to spend (or save) without feeling like you’re squirreling away money and hiding it from your partner.

Nervous to talk about money with your spouse? Write to Dear Penny at

Lisa Rowan is a personal finance expert and senior writer at Codetic, and the voice behind Dear Penny. For more practical money tips, visit

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