Joint Accounts

How Can I Tell My Partner I Want to Separate Our Finances?

Ever since we combined our money, we’ve been fighting all the time

Kristin Wong
Forge
Published in
4 min readJan 20, 2020

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Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

My partner and I have lived together for several years now, and we made the decision to finally merge our finances about a year ago. Since then, it’s become clear to me that that was a mistake: We have very different spending habits, and we’ve been fighting a lot more about money than we did when we kept things separate.

I’d like us to go back to the way things were, but I know that’s easier said than done. So my question is twofold: One, how do I present this in a way that doesn’t cause conflict or make my partner think I’m looking for a way out of the relationship? And two, how do we actually go about disentangling our finances in a way that’s fair to both of us?

Sincerely,

Ready to Be Financially Solo

FFirst of all, don’t think of this as a step backward. You’re taking the necessary steps to strengthen your relationship: You combined your finances, it brought up some issues for both of you, and now you know you’ll need to work on those issues if you want to stay together. That’s a good thing. It’s progress — which is exactly how you should frame it to your partner.

Keeping your finances separate may be the right move for you. But first, you should get to the root of your money conflicts. Even if you and your partner keep separate bank accounts for the rest of your lives, your disagreements about spending will continue to cause tension. You could decide to take an expensive vacation together and end up fighting over whether it’s worth it to upgrade your flight. You could decide to buy a home together and get upset because one of you is saving like crazy while the other one can’t stop blowing money on frivolous things.

Before making any decisions, the two of you need to have a deep conversation about the views and beliefs that inform your relationship with money. Start by figuring out your “money script,” a term coined by financial psychologist Brad Klontz. He says people tend to follow four main approaches to money. “Money Avoiders” don’t want to think about money…

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Kristin Wong
Forge
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.