Individual vs. Joint Accounts When Married

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If you are getting married, congratulations! A stable, long-term relationship with the person you love can be an amazing, happy, and rewarding journey.

That said, you will want to establish a great basis for a happy marriage. As money is one of the top reasons couples disagree, you and your spouse will want to discuss how to manage your money as married partners. One of the major considerations here is whether to share joint bank accounts or keep your finances separate.

There’s no right or wrong answer here – it all comes down to how you and your partner work best. With that in mind, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of sharing accounts and keeping accounts separate to help you decide which strategy is right for your marriage.

Joint Bank Accounts

A joint bank account is shared by more than one person – in this instance, you and your spouse. There are a few distinct benefits to a joint account.

  1. Easier to manage – it’s easier to keep track of incoming funds and outgoing expenses when your money is in one place.
  2. No Access Problems – there will be no issues accessing money if one partner is hospitalized, dies, or is otherwise unavailable.
  3. Equal Share of Knowledge – each partner has equal access to know how much money they have. No partner ever needs to rely on the other for information.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks, namely:

  1. Disagreements – If both of you are set in your ways on how to manage finances (for instance, when to pay bills), joint bank accounts can be challenging.
  2. Accountability – You have no privacy. Your spending and finances are freely visible to your spouse, and you can be held accountable for your spending habits.
  3. Unequal Work – The responsibility of physically paying the bills can all fall on one person’s shoulders.

Separate Bank Accounts

To avoid the disadvantages listed above, some couples will opt to keep their finances separate. There are a few advantages to this approach.

  1. Freedom – You and your spouse are free to spend and manage your money as you wish. If you are both responsible adults who have managed money successfully, there’s nothing wrong with this.
  2. Keeping Things Separate – Many people who have been through a divorce can tell you that breaking up would have been simpler had they kept separate bank accounts.
  3. Only Responsible for Your Own Bills – Obviously, shared bills like a mortgage payment may need to be split. But if you each have your own, separate bills that you want to maintain individual responsibility for, keeping separate accounts allows this possibility.

The drawbacks of separate accounts are:

  1. Logistics – It can be difficult to figure out how to split finances with separate bank accounts. Do you each want to split bills evenly? Do you want to pay some bills, while your spouse pays the other? These things can be complicated.
  2. Unexpected Expenses – Who pays for what when there’s a car repair bill, an unexpected expense, or a purchase that is out of the ordinary? Do you want to have the “Who’s paying?” conversation every time this situation arises?
  3. Disparity in Income – If one spouse makes much more than the other, the breadwinner has a strong advantage in this scenario, while the other partner has much less flexibility for daily spending.

Whichever you decide, you should know that there is no “better” way of managing money as a couple. It all comes down to which scenario fits both your needs and preferences. Marriage should be a happy occasion, and ongoing journey – so make sure to choose wisely and to weigh each option before you decide how to proceed, financially.

Posted in Finance
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