Throughout our marriage, we’ve always enjoyed finding out how our take on finances is similar to other couples (“You read Dave Ramsey, too?”). And it’s especially fun to hear how we differ as well (“You each spend how much on shoes each month?!”). But one area where we’ve been consistently surprised is how different couples handle their bank accounts.
When Johnny and I got married, we closed our individual bank accounts and opened a joint checking account. It just seemed like the obvious choice to us. But many couples we know feel just the opposite. Their bank accounts are separate, and the expenses each spouse covers are separate. And if you ever watch The Suze Orman Show as a couple like we do (so romantic!), then you know that Suze often recommends separate accounts to couples.
Some couples we know swear by individual accounts and can’t understand how we do it. But joint accounts work for us. And here’s why:
All of our revenue goes to one account. Whether my paycheck or Johnny’s, it all ends up in the same place. If we make freelance money or if we sell something on Craigslist, it goes to that account as well. And although we have separate credit cards, when we pay off those cards each month, the money comes from our joint account. It’s much easier for us to see exactly how much money we’re making and where that money is going by having it in one place.
Unified Financial Mindset
Although we each make our separate incomes, Johnny and I think of our incomes as one total income. Technically, Johnny makes much more than I do, but my spending allowance is just the same as his (lucky me!). There is no my money or his money — only our money. This mindset works for us because we feel better equipped to handle our financial future as a unified force rather than as two individuals.
Johnny and I know exactly how much the other person spends and on what. Because it’s all our money, our spending decisions are never made without the consent of the other person. I’ve heard many a married person say semi-jokingly about an expense, “I buy that from my account. It’s best that he/she doesn’t know how much it costs!” While that mentality works for some couples, and while it might help to prevent arguments, we prefer complete transparency. While some spending secrecy is harmless (like Christmas presents), we’ve seen our fair share of marriages encounter unnecessary bumps in the road because of it. It would also be harder for us to stick closely to a budget if we didn’t know about each other’s total spending habits.
Obviously, there are some other considerations. We married young, so neither of us had all that much financial baggage that we brought to the marriage — mortgages, debt, etc. If either of us had had significant financial baggage, closing our individual accounts and pooling all our money and assets into one would have been a tougher decision.
How do you feel about joint accounts as a married couple? One thing we love about personal finances is finding out how financially-savvy couples do their finances differently from us, so please share!