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