Ahhh the debate over joint vs. separate bank accounts. It's been a hot topic among married, and engaged, couples.
Some couples swear by separate bank accounts while others think joint accounts are the only way to go.
We don't believe either method is right or wrong. But, it is important that couples talk it out and decide together what works for their situation.
Finances are often complicated by a variety of factors. (Previous marriages, child support, credit card debt and student loans.) Resentment over money can fester and ruin a relationship, so this is a conversation that should occur sooner rather than later.
Consider a few of the positive aspects of a joint checking account:
- Less maintenance.
- There is only one monthly statement to balance.
- Checks, ATM and debit withdrawals all come out of the same account.
- Promotes the notion that marriage is a team effort.
- One person spends more than the other on “wants” rather than “needs.”
- One person is bad at tracking checks, ATM or debit withdrawals.
- There may be a feeling of a lack of autonomy and financial independence.
Other couples have a joint checking account but also maintain separate checking accounts.
This joint account pays household bills so all income goes into this account first.
Communicating with each other to create a budget and ensure the correct amount of money goes into this account is critical. Each person then decides how to use the money in their separate accounts. Maybe they'll pay down previous debt, maybe they'll go on a shopping spree.
The positives to this approach include:
- Good communication on financial matters
- Each person retains his or her own autonomy and financial independence.
- Money is less likely to be used as power in the relationship.
- Requires agreement and discipline on what the purpose is for each account and how much money goes into the separate accounts.
- There are now three bank accounts to balance each month vs. one.
Open & frequent communication is the key to determining which checking account option is right for you.
Peoples State Bank, Member FDIC