Suze Orman Says Couples Should Keep Accounts Separate

Illustration for article titled Suze Orman Says Couples Should Keep Accounts Separate

Though some of our fellow Gawker Media bloggers think Suze Orman is bilking women out of their hard earned cash by peddling common sense advice that could be applied just as easily to men, we're fans of Suze's practical financial tips for women. As such we were pleased to find her on the cover of the fall issue of Ms., doling out advice for how women can get through this recession. I agreed with all of Suze's suggestions for solvency except in one place: when it comes to couples keeping separate accounts.First, here's where Suze is spot on: she says that credit card debt is the worst kind of debt, because it will destroy your credit rating. If you have savings, use them to pay off credit card debt, but you should never, ever raid your 401K. Even if you have to declare bankruptcy, do not take the money out of your 401K, since that money is protected. "That money is going to be there no matter what happens to you in life," Suze says. Also intriguing, Suze advises, "This is a great time to buy a home if, and only if, you get a deal of a lifetime — meaning someone is selling a home for $200,000 and you offer $140,000 and they say yes." Of course, you should only buy a house, even if it is a fantastic deal, if you can put down 20% or more and if you can get a fixed-rate mortgage. But here's where I think Suze is giving bum advice, or at least advice I believe doesn't work in every circumstance. She doesn't really believe that couples should put all their money in joint checking accounts. Of herself and her partner, Suze says, "K.T. and I have been together for quite a while now, we don't have one joint account. Does it keep us from loving each other totally? No. Would it keep us from stepping in and helping each other? No." I don't think it keeps you from loving each other totally, but I do think not having a shared pot of money can cause a lot of unnecessary strife and haggling over expenses. According to Ms., "Splitting bills down the middle is unfair to the lower earner, says Orman, so she advocates that each person in the relationship pay the same percentage of their individual incomes — say, 25 percent — toward the common bills." I understand the reasoning behind this: half of marriages end in divorce, so even if you think you're going to last forever, there's a good chance you won't. But I picture scenarios like vacations in Cabo where you're wondering who paid for the proper percentage of margaritas, and that's certainly not any way to live. Fall 2008 [Ms.] Earlier: The Recession Is Bad For Almost Every Woman But Suze Orman



First the loving-your-body thread and now this. I lied when I said my looks are the only thing in my life I'm miserable about. My finances are even worse. The boyf said if we ever get married there's no way he'd want to jointly do ANYTHING because my abysmal financial situation would be like an anchor around his glowing one. :cries: