This post originally appeared on Engaged Marriage.
Do you and your spouse use a single, joint checking account? Or do you choose to keep separate bank accounts? Have you considered the alternatives? I was frankly surprised at the responses I've heard to these questions over the past week or so. And I was really shocked at the emotional reaction that many have in defending the structure of their family finances.
It started in the comments to my (first) monthly column at Simple Marriage where everyone seemingly ignored my main points in the "Six Steps to a Simple and Successful Financial Life" and focused in on my statement that a joint checking account was the way to go. Curious, I then posed the question on the Engaged Marriage Facebook page and received some incredible responses. 4 Ways To Avoid Fighting About Money
For instance, the pro joint account crowd provided comments like this:
Mary: We have a joint checking account. Always have and always will. We're married and share everything – nothing is his and nothing is mine. We agree on finances and how we spend OUR money.
Erica: We have joint everything…we discuss all major purchases/goals/bills, but gas, food, etc. just comes out of our joint account as needed. It works very well for us and I couldn't imagine having it separate. All the figuring out who has paid for which thing and how much and trying to make it "even" etc. has never made sense to me. It's US, and OURS.
And some readers love their separate checking accounts:
Sam: We have separate accounts. I cover most of the bills and the majority of his money is used for discretionary costs (gas, food, etc). We both have access to each others accounts, so it's not like my money is strictly my money (and vice-versa). Works for us! Honestly, I think a joint account would cause some stress for us. Jennifer: We have separate accounts. I pay mortgage and living costs (groceries, fun, etc.) and he pays all other bills and savings. We find it much easier to manage money that way.
I don't think my suggestion of trying a single joint checking account was too radical or really all that forceful in the way it was presented. Nevertheless, pretty much every comment on my Simple Marriage post was related to that issue. I was even accused of making broad generalizations, and it was clear that I offended some folks with my recommendation. It turns out that people can be pretty passionate about their choice of bank accounts! Do You Have Separate Bank Accounts?
I loved the conversations, and as I have taken some time to think about the issue a little more, I've even opened my mind a bit. I thought it would be useful to outline the main reasons why a married couple may choose a single joint account vs. separate accounts. And then, for the really important part of this exercise, we'll take a look at why this decision should matter to you and your spouse. 5 Tips to Juggle Love and Money
Reasons Why a Joint Bank Account is Best