Joint or separate checking accounts?
One big decision all young married couples need to make concerns checking accounts. Should they have joint or separate checking accounts?
Before we tackle that questions, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of each approach.
Separate accounts – pros and cons
With separate checking accounts, each half of the couple maintains control over their own money. Couples who opt for separate accounts usually split the bills 50-50. Or each person pays for certain expenses. For example, on person might be responsible for the mortgage payment, while the other person pays for the utilities and groceries.
The advantage to having separate accounts is that you can use your money as you see fit, aside from your half of the bills.
The disadvantage with separate accounts is that you are restricting your future goals. In other words, any long-term goals that require money to achieve are limited by the income of the spouse with the lower income. The type of home you live in, vacations and savings goals are all decreased when you split expenses 50-50.
Joint accounts – pros and cons
Couples who choose a joint checking account each deposit their income into one shared account. All bills and other expenses are paid from this account.
The advantage to a joint account is the ability to achieve the most for the money both of you contribute. A couple who has decided to spend their lives together can accomplish much more with their combined incomes when they opt for a joint account. Together they can decide how best to spend their money to help them live a better life.
The main disadvantage to a joint checking account that most couples complain about is accountability to the other person for every dollar that is spent. There is a perceived lack of independence where money is concerned.
I would recommend a combination approach to the checking account dilemma. Use a joint account for expenses and goals. Next, each spouse should have their own separate accounts for expenses such as clothing or gifts. Decide together how much personal spending money you want to allocate to these separate accounts each month. That way, each person has a certain independence to spend “their money” as they see fit.
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