Chatting with a friend this week, she told me her and her husband have separate checking and savings bank accounts. She pays the bills each month, including the mortgage of the house they own together, and he writes her a check for his half. She says, “It’s just easier for us”. I was really surprised at hearing this, as I grew up in a family of shared finances and my husband and I have joint accounts. I didn’t realize couples did it any other way. It really got me thinking about the advantages of
joint vs. separate bank accounts for married couples.
Advantages of a joint bank account
- Encourages regular discussions about finances
- Supports working as a team to meet financial goals
- Removes hassle of splitting up costs or bills
- Makes you check in with your partner about spending habits
- Gives both partners equal say in decisions involving money
- Eliminates the “my money versus your money” mentality
- Reduces competition on salary contributions
Advantages of a separate bank account
- Both partners are equally responsible for managing finances
- Gives freedom and privacy around spending habits – birthday and Christmas surprises are more fun!
- Eliminates need to explain and justify every charge
- Easier to dictate distribution of money (one account for living expenses, the other for fun or saving)
- Avoids one partner’s credit history from affect the others
- Eases transitions in the event of separation or divorce
- Allows partners to give themselves spending limits or allowances, instead of one partner dictating over the other
Like most couples, my spending habits are much different than my husbands – he saves every penny he can, and I love to buy gifts for others and go to movies. And buy running shoes. And Cheez-Its. We found ourselves fighting over every single credit card charge or ATM withdrawal. To avoid this, I opened a separate checking account for all of my freelance writing earnings. We consider it “extra” money apart from my full-time job, and we agree I can do what I want with that cash. I can use it to build my freelance business or buy a gang of sea turtles. My husband never sees that money and I am still contributing my salary to our financial goals, so the pressure is off.
Some couples I have spoken with believe that since they are united in marriage, so should their finances be. Other, like my friend, feel it’s just easier to keep the individual accounts they had before marriage. If you decide to have separate bank accounts, make sure your partner has access to your accounts in case of an emergency. If a joint checking account or savings account is best for your household, set guidelines for spending and split up administrative responsibilities equally.
When it comes to money, what is most important is open communication and mutual respect. What works for one couple might not work for you. Sit down and go over the list of advantages above and add your own. Come to a decision you both are comfortable with – there is no wrong or right choice.