Happy marriages include pooling money, particularly if children are involved

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24 2013 8:00 a.m. MDT

Pooling money may lead to less conflict in marriage — particularly if there are children involved.

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If good fences make good neighbors, do fenced-off finances make better marriages?

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg was speaking with Michael Norton, the co-author of "Happy Money," and mentioned to him that she and her husband pool their money. Norton thought that was a great idea.

"Apparently, there is research showing that the more you pool your money, the happier you are with your marriage," McArdle wrote. "These effects seem to peter out at some very high level — if you keep 5 percent of your income to yourself in order to have a little bit of discretionary spending, it won't make you any less happy than you'd be if you pool 100 percent. But people who pool 80 percent are happier than those who pool 70 percent, and so on. People who keep it all to themselves are the least happy."

Jessica Grose at Slate read McArdle's article and added her own observations gleaned from a survey she did of almost 6,000 Slate readers: "I didn't ask about happiness specifically, but I did ask about how often couples fought about money. There were negligible differences in the amount of fighting among couples that pooled all their money, some of their money and none of their money. But I did find that the longer couples were together, the more likely they were to pool their money. … "

Grose said keeping separate accounts is bad especially if you have children because a "child is the ultimate shared responsibility, and if you have to hash it out every time your kid needs new shoes, that's going to create stress."

Financial guru Dave Ramsey is a big fan of pooled accounts: "How you handle money reflects your value system. Jesus said, 'Your treasure is where your heart is.' When you don't have combined money in a marriage, it says very plainly you don't have a combined marriage. You are lacking in unity. You are lacking in communication. You are lacking in cooperation that is gained when you force yourself to do that because you have to or you're going to bounce a check."

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

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