Joint Accounts

How Do My Partner and I Merge Our Finances, While Keeping Our Autonomy?

We have become financially interdependent, but I’m uncomfortable telling my partner how to spend money

Kristin Wong
Published in
5 min readAug 12, 2019
Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

My partner and I have been together for around six years, and we’ve always kept our finances totally separate. We split rent and household bills evenly, and I handle my own student loans, car payments, credit card bills, etc. But even without merging accounts, we’re now financially interdependent enough that I think we should be budgeting together. We always help each other out when one person is short on money, and we do the majority of our entertainment spending together.

Neither of us makes a lot. I want to start saving more and spending less on things like going out, but I’m uncomfortable telling my partner what to do financially. Even though I feel like we’re kidding ourselves at this point with our separate accounts, I’m at a loss for how to move forward. What’s a good way to merge our finances, while still allowing us each some autonomy?


Ready to Merge

IIt’s a vexing question among couples in your situation: Should we keep our finances separate or take the plunge and combine everything? The short answer is, do both. You can have shared accounts and still keep your own personal spending accounts.

It sounds like you’re already doing this to some extent, so let’s get to the longer answer — how to set up your finances together, what to talk about, and how to manage it going forward. We’ve discussed this before, but what you’re looking for is something called the “Yours, Mine, and Ours” money plan. Open a joint checking and savings account that you both pay into regularly. Then use it to pay for shared expenses, like rent and groceries, and save for shared goals, like vacations or a home down payment. In addition to these joint accounts, you can still each have your own individual spending accounts.

What you’re looking for is something called the “Yours, Mine, and Ours” money plan.



Kristin Wong
Writer for

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