Joint vs. Separate Checking Accounts
As a married couple should you have separate or joint checking accounts?
I didn’t get married until I was in my 30’s, I had my own bills, my own house, my own job and my own checking account. My husband also had his own bills, job and checking account. I first thought yes, we should have a joint account, my husband did not agree at the time so we kept everything separate. We split the household bills and repairs 50/50.
Do I think that separate accounts is the best way to handle finances in a marriage? No. Do I think it is best to keep all your money jointly combined? No. So what is a couple to do? First and foremost, you and your spouse MUST communicate with each other about finances. It is best to determine prior to marriage how you will handle your money. Meet with a money management coach prior to marriage. If you are both young, right out of mom & dads house, all this money talk will be very new, but it is really one of the most important talks you can have with each other. If you are already in a marriage chances are you have not talked about your money, why do I say that? Financial issues are named as one of the leading causes for divorce.
Dave Ramsey’s belief is that all money should be in a joint account. You are married, you are one, your money should be combined. Yes, in a perfect world I agree. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where usually one person in a marriage is good with money, the other is not. One is a saver, one is a spender. When you have all your money in a joint account, I can guarantee the spender will spend faster than the saver can save.
With that said, you need to live as a couple, jointly communicate about the finances of the household. Work the budget TOGETHER. Agree to have a joint account to pay the bills from. Agree to have a joint savings account to save up for vacations and emergencies. Agree, that nothing is spent from these joint accounts without the knowledge and approval of the other spouse.
At the same time, each have a separate account. One where your “allowance” or “spending” money goes into. Each of you can use and spend the money in your account as you see fit. The saver will most likely save. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. I am not saying that any money should be kept secrets from the other spouse that kills trust. You each should know exactly how much money is coming into the household and how much each of you are holding in your own separate accounts as well as “sharing” how you are spending your money separate money.
Joint – Separate – Both
It is complicated when you bring two separate people together and make them one. You each have your own ideal and habits, that is why my opinion, in a healthy marriage, is to have joint and separate accounts.