Before marriage, a couple should sit down for a serious talk about how they’ll manage their finances after tying the knot. Because a major reason for divorce is money, establishing a sound financial setup is crucial to maintaining a long-lasting relationship.
Many couples, even after years of marriage, question whether they should have separate or joint bank accounts. The answer to that question can differ greatly depending on the couple.
Entirely Joint Bank Accounts
Becoming fully immersed in each other’s financial well-being with totally joint finances represents a life-long commitment to the relationship. It allows a couple to monitor each other’s spending habits and to address any financial problems that may arise. All money coming in and going out originates from one account.
Also, couples could opt for this route when one person doesn’t want to handle the financial decisions and places the responsibility on the spouse.
Putting everything in one pot is believed, by marriage counselors, to provide an open channel of communication that is a key to successful marriages.
Entirely Separate Bank Accounts
Separate accounts is the easy way out because each person already has their own accounts and management style. Couples will have to come up with a plan to pay the bills and joint expenses while also trying to save for the couple’s future.
Independent bank accounts raises a red flag because a major aspect of each member’s lives isn’t shared. It shows that each person has something to hide, which is often the case.
Although some financial experts warn against opening separate bank accounts, it would be wise to maintain them if one member of the couple is facing severe debt obligations. Adding a name to these accounts could jeopardize the member with a good credit history.
A Mix of Joint and Separate Bank Accounts
In a hybrid approach, a couple will have joint savings and checking accounts in addition to each person having a separate individual account. Paychecks would be deposited into the joint accounts and a small portion would be transferred to the personal accounts. The money to pay for household bills and shared expenses would come out of the joint checking account. Also, each of them would contribute shared savings goals for things such as a mortgage down payment or a child’s college tuition.
Some couples designate their personal accounts for guilt-free spending as it helps to add a little mystery in the relationship. For instance, a partner may want to surprise the other with a gift which would otherwise be spoiled with a joint account.
A combination of joint and separate bank accounts keeps each person accountable for the couple’s financial health while still offering a sense of independence and autonomy.
What Makes It Work
A couple should take the time to develop the right setup of financial accounts that aligns with their financial behaviors and goals. Some couples will try all three different approaches and tweak them to find the right setup.
No matter which types of bank accounts that a couple uses, these things are vital when dealing with couple finances:
It is important for couples to talk and listen when it comes to dealing with joint finances. Each person has a vested interested in the other so couples need to manage their money together.
Couples should sit down and look over their account activities to review their finances every two weeks or so. Looking over statements and balances serves to keep both people accountable.
Set rules and limits
Budgeting and guidelines keeps the couple is important when it comes to achieving their joint financial goals. This way, each partner knows what should and shouldn’t be done with their money.
Simon Zhen is a research analyst for MyBankTracker. He is an expert on consumer banking products, bank innovations, and financial technology.
Simon has contributed and/or been quoted in major publications and outlets including Consumer Reports, American Banker, Yahoo Finance, U.S. News – World Report, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Lifehacker, and AOL.com.