Separate or Joint Accounts? The Pros and Cons for Couples

Posted on 06/15/2010

When you get married, there are so many decisions to make. Who will be the one to take out the trash? How will closet space be divvied up? Who gets to hold the remote? And of course, a biggie, will you have separate or joint bank accounts? Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether separate or joint bank accounts are right for you.

Separate Bank Accounts

The Pros: Separate bank accounts can allow for more freedom. Your money can be spent on the things that you want, without having to ask anyone for permission. No explanations are necessary as long as the bills are paid.

The Cons: Splitting everything in half -- from meals to the mortgage-- can feel more like a college roommate situation than a marriage. There’s more paperwork to deal with and there could be a lack of common financial goals like saving up for a European vacation or paying off credit cards. Plus, it can be tough to figure out who pays for surprise expenses like repairing a leaky fridge or a broken water heater.

Joint Bank Accounts

The Pros: When you get married, you become a team. Gone are the days of “this is mine” and “that is yours.” Everything you have belongs to each other. So sharing a joint bank account just continues this theme and makes your team even more united. Plus you’ll cut down on paperwork and it will be easier to get on the same page when it comes to finances.

The Cons: Sometimes when one spouse makes more money than the other, bad feelings can form. One person may feel like they’re pulling the bulk of the financial weight, and having joint bank accounts makes this blatantly obvious. Plus if one person is more of a spender, there’s no denying how much cash was dropped on a new pair of jeans or that high-end haircut. With joint bank accounts everything is out in the open.

By Alison Storm

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Posted on 06.15.10 at 10:46 AM

If you are a breadwinning kind of person, then spend an hour with a lawyer prior to getting married. Get a pre-nupt and/or figure out how to protect your resources before they become joint property. Generally you'll probably get "don't co-mingle resources unnecessarily." Getting taken for half of what you're worth because the Ex realizes that dumping you is profitable... it sucks, but is how a lot of states run their divorces.

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