Separate, Joint or Combined Bank Accounts: Which Works Best for Your Family?

pregnant couple

Many years ago (11 to be exact!) my husband and I got married and turned two households into one.

At the time I was a teacher and held down a full time job that came with that added perk I like to call a steady paycheck. At the time we married we also moved across the country. I closed my bank account and we united our money into one account when we got settled into our new home.

Those steady paycheck days are long gone. I work for myself now. I have a small business account and my husband and I have a second account for all other things.

The other day my best friend told me she and her husband have never combined their money: she has an account and he has an account. They pay different bills. Their spending money is separate. If they make a large purchase, they decide whose money will pay for the purchase.

There is a third option another friend of mine follows: two separate accounts and one joint account. She and her husband each put money into a third account each month. That money goes to paying the bills. They don’t put the same amount in, since they don’t make the same amount each month. They put a portion of their checks into that account for household expenses and other purchases.

I’ve never really considered the separate account option, but I can understand some of its advantages.

  • Each partner feels financially independent.
  • Each partner has an idea of what money is coming in and going out.
  • There is less room for ‘surprises’ when it comes to expenses and finances.
  • If you want to purchase something you may feel more comfortable doing it if you think it is ‘your' money and ‘your' debt rather than yours and your spouse’s. 

Having one account works well for our family, though.

  • I keep up with our finances enough to know what is going on.
  • I keep track of what is going out, and both my husband and I take turns paying the bills.
  • I know what bills we pay and how we pay them (online, by check).
  • At this point, since I’m not working full time, I don’t make enough to keep a separate bank account; and even if I did, I’m not sure I would, but that is just my personal preference.

You can find experts on both sides of the fence, but it’s best to fully consider the implications of your choices not just today, but in the future as well. For example, are you aware that marriage does not combine your credit scores? However, any joint accounts affect each of your scores – equally – so consider your current standings and the value of adding one another to an account. If one of you has a history of bad credit, joining accounts may not be in your best interest.

How does it work in your family? And why do you choose to do it that way?

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Separate, Joint or Combined Bank Accounts: Which Works Best for Your Family?

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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4 comments

  1. Having a Joined bank account works best for us. I use to work but now I’m a stay at home mommy with our children. His check goes into the bank (he likes to think of it as taking care of his family). I take care of the financial portion, what bills comes out of what paycheck and what we can afford to spend extra and what needs to be gotten for our children. I keep a close track on money (since very little extra gone could make or break a week for us). I know there are no surprises, no extra money being spent off our account. We take money out of the bank and he gets cash incase things happen and he needs money, I keep one of the debit cards incase I need to get something while he’s gone to work. It works out best for us. It’s not my money or his money, it’s our money. It’s our family’s money. We became a family when we got married, and the money portion became ours not separate.

  2. MAMASEXXY says:

    I WISH I WOULDN’T HAVE ADDED MY HUSBAND TO MY ACCOUNT. I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHERE THINGS GOT COMPLICATED BUT THEY DID, A WHOLE LOT.

  3. I don’t really understand how that would work with kids.. it seems like mom would get stuck buying most of the clothes for the kids.

  4. Sara says:

    We do separate with a joint. I think it goes back to the days when we weren’t married and just living together and with one other person. we all each have a few bills that are our responsibility and for rent and groceries we have a joint savings and checking account where we deposit money in as needed. That way I am not disgruntled when he spends 150 on a new starter for his car when I was just planning on spending 50 at Old Navy. This way we can both spend our money and get our own stuff and still have money for family stuff.

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