What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine—sort of? According to Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, combining bank accounts with a significant other isn’t just an optional part of the marriage process; it might actually be a bad idea.
“You need to maintain your own financial identity,” O’Leary told CNBC’s Make It during a recent interview. “This wisdom has been applicable since men were rolling around stones in caves. Your stone, my stone. Your account, my account.”
O’Leary’s belief does hold some very reasonable logic, though it may initially sound like a harsh proclamation.
“The reason you want your own account, and particularly your own credit card, is if you pay it off every month—that’s the first way you start to build a credit score,” he said. Credit scores are used by banks and property managers to help determine how rates for individuals on things like mortgages and auto loans, which are also an undeniable huge part of married life. “That makes things cheaper for you later in life,” he explained.
What O’Leary suggests instead is for both partners to maintain their own separate accounts in addition to a bigger joint account that is primarily used for living expenses. This way, each individual will be able to build up their own credit scores while also maintaining a sense of togetherness.
“Here’s the methodology for marriage when it comes to bank accounts: Each person has their own, and then you create a joint account,” he said, suggesting that the couple can use a joint card for things like the mortgage or groceries.
At present, a larger percentage of married millennials are already abiding by this school of thought—28 percent—than their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts—11 percent and 13 percent, respectively—according to a recent report by Bank of America.
Perhaps part of the reason is that millennials are less likely to chat about finances. A recent Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study found that a whopping 61 percent of women would rather talk about their own mortality than money. And maybe because of that, 20 percent of millennial couples surveyed by Bank of America actually don’t even know how much their partner makes.
“Make money something you think about together,” O’Leary said. “It’s going to be part of your life forever anyway, you might as well talk about it early on.”
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