This is a subject I just love and adore, and it probably makes me a bit of a nerd – but I’m okay with that. I have no idea why I enjoy debating this subject so much, but I do. Joint bank accounts; should you have one with your spouse or no? I vote – if you care for my opinion – yes. I think it’s the most efficient and fairest way to run a household. It’s all OUR money in the first place, and I think that we all enjoy seeing where that money goes and who is spending it, and I think that it makes the most sense. In my house, it keeps us grounded. It makes me think twice about how many Bergdorf transactions are going through in a short period of time since my husband will see them and ask me why I feel that our kids never have to go to college, or something to that effect (He doesn’t say that, but I can tell he’s thinking it). It also helps that my husband is a banker.
We’ve had joint accounts since we got engaged (that was seriously 12 years ago and I just died a little to realize it’s been that long even though it feels as if it’s only been 10 minutes). We joined our accounts when we joined our lives and it’s been good for us. We have a personal account that’s for fun, savings for savings (hey now) and an account we call our bill account. We don’t keep track of who makes what. We just put the amount of money that pays our household expenses into our bill account on the first of every month and a certain perfect of everything else deposited into our accounts goes into savings and the rest into our fun account. My husband has an eye on our accounts throughout the day, and I handle the checkbooks. What we do to eliminate the 600 small transactions we make throughout the week is use cash for those so that I don’t have a thousand little receipts that need my attention all the time. I deal only with receipts that are for gas and shopping excursions or travel. It’s easy and it works for us. We also make it a point to never spend more than $1000 without first discussing our purchase with the other, since something that big is usually something for the house or travel, and we think we should both be on the same page for that kind of stuff.
Now, is a joint checking account right for you? Here are the pros and cons, and you can decide for yourself.
Pro – You Share it All
There is no your money, my money deal. Marriage is about equality and being on the same page, so if you can’t be on the same page financially, you probably have other issues you need to work out that are far more important than merging accounts. Your money is ‘our’ money in marriage. It takes away a lot of the breadwinner mentality since someone isn’t always broke in comparison to the other and no one is throwing the “Well, I pay this mortgage,” card in anyone’s faces. It’s all shared income and it’s all fair ground.
Pro – You’re More Aware of your Finances
When two people are caring for the same account, your money is probably being looked after quite well. It’s probably being taken care of in a manner that you both find appropriate, and it’s something that you probably really do enjoy a bit more since you probably think twice about making useless purchases since you don’t want anyone questioning you.
Pro – There’s a Lot of Trust
When you can see where money is going, there’s a lot more trust. No one can use your bank account to send someone else flowers or buy gifts or meals that don’t look appropriate. I’m willing to bet fewer people would cheat on their spouses if they had access to one another’s finances on a regular basis. I don’t know how others might feel about that, but I do know that we both have full access to all accounts and know where every penny goes every single day.
Con – There’s No Surprise
Now, when you share a checking account, there is no surprising your spouse with flowers or a gift that has to come in. Unless you use a credit card for something like this to keep it secret, you can’t really do anything secretly when you share an account with your spouse and he or she can see that you ordered something from Tiffanys or that you ordered something from the local florist. It’s a con, but it’s not really all that big of a deal.
Con – It Could Cause Stress
We have acquaintances that shared accounts for a while, and all it did was make them fight. They were constantly arguing with one another because they were both very nit-picky. They have a nice income and plenty of disposable income, but she would get on him about spending $5 here or $6 there every day or a few times a day, and he would get on her about how much she would spend this much or that much on this or that. It was a constant battle of “why do you do this,” and “that’s ridiculous,” between the two of them, so they decided to split their accounts. Now she can spend her $50 on a week on pedicures without him questioning what about her toes looks like $50 and he can go to his favorite coffee shop and get 3 lattes a day with his debit card (he really should use cash for that one; I’d hate reconciling all those small receipts).
All in all, the decision is one you have to make for your own family. We’ve shared accounts for more than a decade with no financial issues or marital issues, but other people can’t handle it. It all depends on how you see things and where you stand as far as your finances are concerned, and it’s a very personal thing.
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