A topic for discussion before marriage, or early thereafter, is whether you and your spouse will have a joint bank account. There are definitely varying opinions and even pros and cons as to whether you should or not.
Pros To Having A Joint Bank Account
- accountability of each spouse’s spending
- helps to open communication about expectations in regards to finances
- will help both of you feel like you make more money because both incomes are combined
- helps make it simple to pay shared expenses since it’s coming out of one account
- can make it easier to do a budget together
- easy and equal access to funds
Cons To Having A Joint Bank Account
- easy and equal access to funds (No this isn’t a typo from above. Lol. Refer to the next bullet point!)
- one spouse might be more of a spender than the other and blow through the money without any regards for their spouse, bills, or other necessities
- your spouse will know what you are spending money on All. The. Time.
- might feel a loss of financial independence since combining money
- the spouse that makes more money and thus contributes more money to the joint account may start to feel some resentment or more entitlement to the money
Pros To Having Separate Bank Accounts
- still have a sense of financial independence
- can help protect one spouse if the other spouse is always spending too much money
- when you can’t come to an agreement on joint financial goals
Cons To Having Separate Bank Accounts
- one spouse can feel like they don’t contribute enough because they make less money
- the bread winner spouse could feel like they have more say so about the money because she/he makes more money
- can be hard to figure out how to pay shared expenses
- can make it harder to do a budget together
As you can see, there are numerous pros and cons for each argument. And I’m sure this list could go on and on. There is also some overlap on whether or not it’s a con or pro. It just depends on how you choose to view it.
Our Thoughts Before Marriage
Before Omar and I got married we discussed if we should have a joint bank account once we did get married. Omar’s opinion was that we should. However, I begged to differ.
I had heard too many stories of people getting screwed over by their spouse when it came to money and joint accounts. I didn’t want to be one of those people. As a matter of fact, I was adamant that I wouldn’t get a joint account with anyone. I didn’t want to see my hard earned money go down the drain because of someone else being irresponsible. Also, I didn’t want someone thinking that they could tell me what to do with my money.
Omar: I was always adamant about having a joint account because I had heard about and read about the nightmares of having separate accounts. I had also heard stories of marriages being healed through sharing accounts and budgeting and already strong marriages getting stronger. I figured it would be better to start off learning to work out of one account instead of learning the hard way. Also, I’m more introverted than Kim, but one of the things I like to communicate about is money. I saw having a joint account as an opportunity to communicate more with Kim. It’s allowed us to communicate better throughout other areas too.
After Omar and I talked this through, I was at ease and realized that I couldn’t judge our particular situation based on the stories I had heard about others. Once we were engaged and decided to start saving for our wedding , we opened a joint bank account. We felt it was the easiest way to save money together. And worse case scenario, if we decided to go our separate ways we could easily figure out how much each of us put into the account. Saving for our wedding together by using our joint account helped to open up the lines of communication in regards to our finances before we were even married.
Our Thoughts After Marriage
Once we were married it was a no brainer that we would deposit both of our paychecks into our joint account and operate, as a unit, out of that account.
There is no, “My money or his money.” It’s OUR money. This forces us to talk about what we plan to do with the money for that pay period, and we both must agree or at least come to a compromise.
This has also helped in regards to the “bread winner” status in our marriage and each of our expectations. When we first got married I was the bread winner (although only by about $5k). Over time, Omar’s income has far exceeded mine, especially since I’m practically a stay at home mom. However, all money is our money regardless of the amount of income one of us contributes to the household.
Omar: Yesterday I came across this article where it discussed why married couples should have separate bank accounts. It gave examples of couples who might have benefited from having separate bank accounts. However, what I saw in the 3 examples that they gave was a breakdown in communication. Those wives were a combination of stay at home moms or they made significantly less money than their husbands. The wives didn’t feel comfortable spending money because their husbands hadn’t made it clear that this was “OUR money” regardless of who earned it. Since Kim took a significant pay cut to stay at home with our son, I make sure to go out of my way often to tell her that this is her money too. What she contributes to our household is just as valuable as what I contribute.
Is There A Happy Medium?
If hesitant to only have a joint account, then you could always have a joint account and then each spouse can have their own separate account.
As stated earlier, we direct deposit both of our checks into our joint checking account, but we have our own separate accounts as well. We use our separate accounts for our blow money, gas money, and any other personal spending money. This also comes in handy when it’s time for gifts, whether it’s one of our birthdays, our anniversary, or any other time one of us wants to get the other a gift.We will put extra money in our separate accounts so that we can each buy gifts. This helps so that the other doesn’t know where the gift came from if a debit card is used to buy the gift.
Having a joint account (plus separate accounts for our personal spending) has worked well for us. No matter if our income is close in range to each other or if there’s a huge gap, it’s OUR money. Neither of us could imagine doing anything differently.