If you are getting married soon, you might wonder whether it's best to get a separate or joint checking account with your future spouse. Your relatives might tell you that it is not a good idea to get a joint account because your spouse might not handle household expenses wisely and as a result you'll suffer. Others might tell you that a joint account is better because you will have a system in place where the two of you will know where the money is going. Here are some pros and cons of joint and separate checking accounts for married couples.
Joint checking accounts promote honesty in marriage
When you get married, you become one unit and having a joint checking account allows for open communication and honesty in your finances together. There is a checks and balances system that is associated with a joint account and this means that the two of you will need to be transparent regarding how money from the account is spent.
You'll have easier access to funds with a joint account
Another benefit of a joint account is that it is easier to get access to funds. This is especially helpful when you need the money right away to pay bills, help loved ones in need or if emergencies arise where a spouse will need to get hold of the money in the account.
There is autonomy with separate accounts
If you decide to have separate accounts after marriage, this allows you some financial autonomy within the marriage while having the maturity to also consider the needs of the household when spending money from the checking account. For example, you might buy a laptop for $200 but you also use the funds in your account to help your spouse pay bills and buy groceries.
One spouse might not feel financially secure with a joint account
Some spouses do not want a joint account because they do not feel financially secure with one. This is true in cases where one spouse manages money better than the other, or when one spouse is secretive and dishonest about where the money from the account is going.
Joint accounts could be less expensive
Another benefit of a joint account is that it could be cheaper than having separate accounts. This is because checking accounts often have service charges and fees that add up if you have multiple accounts.
Separate accounts are helpful if divorce occurs
You want to believe that your marriage will last a lifetime but since divorce is a possibility, it might be a good idea to have a separate account. This is why some couples don't close out the checking accounts they have before getting married. When you have your own account, it becomes easier to manage finances after the divorce.
The decision whether to have separate or joint accounts should be discussed prior to getting married. It also helps to discuss this issue with a financial adviser, especially if one of you has a poor credit history. Whether you decide to have a separate or joint account, the two of you will still need to have open communication regarding your finances.