Ask Away Blog: Separate vs Joint Accounts for Couples

Separate vs Joint Accounts for Couples

Wednesday, March 4, 2020



As a personal finance blogger, I often get asked the question of which is better; a joint account or separate accounts for couples. So today I’m going to look at the 3 options for this. I say 3 because another option is to do both (which is what my husband and I do). There are pros and cons to each and there are situations where each will be best. So if you’re debating on what to do with finances in your relationship, check this out.

Joint Accounts
A join account works by having both names on a bank account with multiple debit cards so each person can spend and withdraw money whenever they need to. Joint accounts are often used by long-term or married couples and in situations where one person works and the other stays at home.

Pros
Only one checkbook or account needs to be balanced and watched.

A couple can use one single budget for the entire family.

Both individuals may be more likely to curb their spending when they know someone else can see.

Cons
If one person is controlling, they may take advantage of this to control finances.

If you aren’t working or don’t make as much as your spouse, you may feel trapped if you are tied together financially.

If both individuals are bad with money, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Separate Accounts
Separate accounts work by both people having their own accounts, balancing their own budgets (or maybe even a joint budget still), and usually the bills are paid out of one account.

Pros
If you split, you still have your own money that can’t be touched by anyone else.

You can make your own purchase decisions without having to answer to anyone (not a problem, if you are a responsible spender and shopper).

Your debt on a separate credit card is your own and your partner’s is their own, so you aren’t necessarily responsible for paying it.

Cons

If someone’s bad with money, there’s no way to hold them accountable.

One person has to take on the responsibility of paying bills.

If something happens to your spouse you may not have instant access to pay bills, etc. unless you have their account information and a plan set up for that scenario (I highly recommend it).

Separate AND Joint Accounts
With separate and joint accounts, each person has their own individual account but they also use a joint account to pay joint expenses. Money is typically transferred electronically from the individual accounts to the joint account. Both individuals have access to the joint account even though only one person may handle paying the bills out of it. With bills, they are split or a specific bill is assigned to either person and then that money is transferred into the joint account and paid directly from that account.

Pros
You have your personal freedom with your spending but still are held accountable for ensuring you contribute to the bills.

All of the pros of both above.

Cons
It COULD be a little more work because it’s one more thing to keep track of.

So which is better?

Only you can determine which scenario is best for you. You should BOTH agree on the same option. Don’t ever let anyone tell you how it’s gonna be without letting you plead your case.

Personally, for my husband and I, we have separate accounts AND a joint account. Here’s how it works…Each paycheck, we transfer a portion of each bill that we split (mortgage, insurance, cable, electric, water, sewer) into the joint account. I set up automatic bill paying for our joint bills and I monitor the account. We both have access to the account even though I tend to be the one that checks on it more and tracks everything. This works great for us because neither of us have credit card debt, we are both good with our individual accounts, and we both agreed that as long as we can pay our bills each month, we aren’t going to pick on what the other person buys. Of course if you have spending problems, it may not be the best option for you to do it this way because without a single joint account, who is going to hold you accountable if you can’t hold yourself accountable. We also don’t have kids so that helps us out with this option.

For those with children, the joint account is very popular. Since kids are a joint expense it makes more sense for many people that they just use their household income together to pay for everything.

For those that aren’t in a fully committed relationship yet, the separate account is a great option to protect you financially in case the relationship ends.

Whatever choice you make, don’t go by what anyone else says or recommends. Every situation is completely different so examine yours, write a list of pros and cons for each option, and then make the decision once your partner is on board.

Which system do you use in your relationship?

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1 comment:

  1. We have our separate and a joint account, have been married 39 years and together 43 years

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