Should Couples Have Separate Bank Accounts

Billy and his wife Sally share a joint checking account. They are married and feel that everything should be shared, including their money. They discuss all of the purchases that they make and they come to an agreement about their finances before they spend anything. This makes sense to them. Their money is us and ours.

checking account

On the other hand Timothy and Joan have separate bank accounts because their money pays for different things. He pays the mortgage and living costs such as groceries and entertainment while she pays the other bills and sets aside money for savings. They find it easier to manage their money that way and feel that having a joint account would cause stress for both of them.

There are different ways to look at this and no two couples see it exactly the same. When some married couples say they have separate bank account they really mean it. Their money is separate. Other couples have separate bank accounts but both individuals have access to the other person’s account so no money is strictly “his” or “hers.” Still other couples do not see the point of having separate bank accounts if they are married.

This is a topic that can become very controversial because people are very passionate about the type of bank account they have and whether their name is the only one on it or not!  In the debate over joint bank account vs. separate bank accounts it helps to look at the advantages of each option.

Advantages of a Joint Bank Account:

  • Couple must work together to meet their monetary goals
  • Built-in level of accountability in terms of spending for both people
  • Regular communication about financial matters is a necessity
  • Encourages unity in regards to all money matters
  • Money earned by both individuals is considered to be household money (“our” money)
  • Less conflict when it comes to who will  pay what

Advantages of Separate Bank Accounts:

  • Bookkeeping duties are shared by both people
  • Easier and more convenient means of tracking savings goals
  • Individual spending has clear boundaries set up
  • Regular financial talks are not required
  • Each spouse has a certain proportion of income that can be used for their own things
  • Level of privacy regarding spending
  • Surprising the other spouse with a present is easy to do
  • Autonomy and independence over spending habits (no need to ask for permission from other spouse)

Which Choice is Right?

The question then is- who is correct when it comes to the topic of bank accounts? The answer is it depends upon the couple.

There is a difference between having separate bank accounts and having separate finances within a marital union. You need to build a foundation of trust, understanding, support and open communication in a marriage because it is a partnership and you need to make sure that money management is about the two of you working together to accomplish the same ends as opposed to there being selfishness and greed in the marriage.

Those that feel that a single joint bank account is right for them like to think that when you marry then two become one and that includes the money from both spouse’s. They see all of their money as our money. When you choose this option for your money you must reach a unanimous agreement about all financial matters and your level of communication must be excellent.

Couples who have joint accounts often feel that it is simpler to keep track of their spending and savings because their money is not being drawn from multiple accounts to pay this bill or that bill. Still others find it easier to discuss their financial affairs but keep their bank accounts separate. They find this more simplistic and less complex than the alternative. If one spouse is a much better money manager than the other then this may be the most appropriate choice to make.

It is possible to have a happy and healthy marriage and to be successful at managing your financial life no matter what type of bank account you decide to have. There is no right or wrong answer. The key is to find a way to work with your finances so that it suits both members of the couple and fosters an environment of open and honest communication. Regardless of how you decide to handle the bank account situation in you relationship there should not be any secrets between spouses regarding money that has been spent or saved. You must remain a united front.

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