With the joining of hands in holy matrimony – also comes the joining of financial ventures. For many couples, the latter is the most difficult aspect of tying the marital knot. And financial experts, often warn people prior to marriage that protecting their financial resources in lieu of marriage is an important endeavor. Sure, you may love your spouse – but their poor credit and lack of money management skills, or student loans can and will eventually bring you down. And listen, despite the pre-wedding and newlywed bliss it is important to realize that matters of money surpass matters of the heart when it comes to problems within a marriage and divorce rates. Initially, you might find it heroic, or even poetic to love your spouse despite their financial woes – but eventually it WILL become an issue in the marriage.
The question is, should married couples have a joint bank account?
For the answer, we travel to numerous sources. Experts, both marital and financial advise that a joint bank account is good for varied reasons within a marriage. After all, the two of you are a couple now and it is important to realize that this is the ultimate test of whether or not you learned the popular toddler ‘sharing’ lesson when you were a kid. Its one thing to share your bed, share your car, share your home – but it is altogether different to share your money.
Here are just some of the reasons that you should have a joint bank account.
- Considering that lack of communication about money is one of the leading culprits to marital dysfunction, it stands to reason that a shared bank account will encourage financial communication and fiscal responsibility. In other words, neither one of you will be able to hide money somewhere, and the two of you will learn to understand one anothers spending habits. This comes with built in accountability when it comes to family spending.
- When the two of you save together, and manage money together – according to a Forbes study, you are also more likely to create future goals together. Whether the goal is buying a home, or owning a boat – the shared finances motivates the two of you to work together as a united force toward achieving your goals. And when you work together toward your goals, you have a much better chance of achieving them. This hard work together can systematically strengthen the marriage over the years. Plus, a sense of unity in a marriage is extremely important!
- Sharing a bank account sets the tone that household expenses are shared as well. The household after marriage shouldn’t be run as a ‘hers or his’ entity. After all, the two of you are not roommates who are splitting the electric bill. The household consists of you and your spouse – and eventually maybe some children and there should be household money (family money) used to provide for expenses incurred.
- Sharing bank accounts gives both people ownership and equality and ACCESS to the family funds. One person in the household should never be diminished to having to ask a spouse for money, or explain why they need $10 to do something for themselves. If one half of the couple is seen as the less responsible party, and has limited access to funds, the marriage begins to feel like a parent child relationship rather than a relationship with two equals. There is nothing wrong with setting budgets and strictly enforcing them – but not enabling a spouse to get money when they need or want it, un-evens the marital playing field.
Essentially, it is important that as a married couple you learn to operate from a similar stance when it comes to financial matters. Together is best for many reasons. That being said, there is NOTHING wrong with also setting up secondary accounts that are used for personal reasons. For many couples this works great, and enables both of the parties to remain financially autonomous – especially if both are working adults. Plus, by maintaining, a separate account used for incidentals, or for saving for personal goals- each person is able to achieve a sense of freedom when it comes to their personal finances. Of course, separate accounts work best when both parties are working. In the case of a stay at home parent who doesn’t have financial income, opening separate personal accounts can be belittling unless equal money is allocated for both.
Often in a marriage, how money is handled as a couple is a tell tale sign of how successful the marriage is. For every couple, the divvying up of the finances is handled a little bit different. In the end, the best way to do this is a personal choice. If the situation that you have implemented works well for both of you – and is something that both of you feel comfortable with, then you are handling things the right way. There isn’t a ‘set in stone’ set of rules that works best for all couples. The key point is that the matters of household finances be openly discussed and mutually agreeable.
It may not be money that brought the two of you together, but based on research a commonly shared approach to money management and fiscal responsibility definitely can be the thread the holds the marriage together in the years to come.