Money issues are the main reason for divorce in America. And with over 50% of marriages ending in divorce there must be a lot of couples with money problems out there. It used to be that when two people were married they automatically closed their separate accounts and joined their finances into one. That is no longer the hard and fast rule according to financial planners and marriage counselors.
People are getting married later in life and may be on marriage number two or three. That means they have their own philosophy on money and are used to being in complete control of their money. Relationship experts almost unanimously agree that if a couple can’t join their finances there could be underlying issues.
Marriage is a partnership and finances are a major part of marriage. But what works for some couples may not work for all. Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a joint checking account.
- Keeps it Simple
With one joint account there’s less banking that has to be done. It also means less paperwork. It can be hard enough to maintain one account let alone two. One account means one statement.
- Signifies Trust
Money is a sensitive topic for a lot of people. Money is really a value system that shows a lot about a person. Having one account shows your spouse you’re committed and have absolutely nothing to hide.
God forbid you or your spouse gets in an accident, but what if that happens and you have no information about their checking account. This could cause some major financial damage. When there is one account it fosters more of a team environment. It may also encourage responsible spending habits because you know your partner is going to see every penny you spend.
- Bad Financial Habits
Having a joint checking account can cause major drama if one person has a habit of frivolous spending and bouncing checks. Their financial indiscretions can actually wind up hurting their spouse’s credit.
People bring along their bad habits when they get married. You might snore loud at night or leave the tooth paste tube unrolled but what if one of your spouse’s bad habits is not paying their taxes or credit card bills on time? Unfortunately the IRS or creditors don’t care whose money it is in your joint account. They’ll take what they want including “your” money.
Privacy is marriage is not always a bad thing. What if you like picking up your spouse a gift and surprising them? That’s pretty hard to do when there’s one bank account.
- Saver vs. Spender
What if you like to save up and accumulate a cushion and your spouse likes to spend every last cent in the account? Again, this can cause major drama in the relationship. One partner may end up resenting the other because their hard work of saving ends up going for naught as the other partner comes in and spends it.
- Unequally Yoked Salaries
What if one person makes a large salary while the other is clocking minimum wage? Some people feel that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. This philosophy is completely fair and makes things simple. It works for a lot of older couples who married at an older age.
While most financial and relationship experts agree that having a joint account is better each marriage is unique. What works for one couple may not work for the other. Some people have a joint account but keep their credit cards separate. This arrangement is called hybrid finances. Whether you decide to keep things separate, joint or a little of both the key is to communicate early and often.