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Should You Have a Joint Banking Account?

Discover the pros and cons of joint and separate banking accounts

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One of the major money questions facing newlyweds is whether to have a joint banking account. Like everything else in marriage deciding between a joint banking account or separate ones requires communication and patience. You both must have the courage to openly discuss your approaches to money and financial goals. How much do you make annually? How much will your monthly bills (electricity, healthcare, mortgage/rent, groceries, etc.) cost? Are you a spender or a saver?

After you know how much money you have to handle and you know your feelings about personal finances, you must consider the advantages and disadvantages of joint banking accounts to determine the right system for you. Here, you can consider the possibilities of joint and separate banking accounts or both:

Joint Banking Account

Who should get it? Couples who trust each other completely, have similar spending and saving habits and goals, and who are looking for convenience when it comes to depositing, withdrawing, and paying bills, should consider a joint banking account.

Advantages: A joint banking account is one in which both your names appear on the account, and you completely merge your money. You would deposit all your money – from wedding cash gifts to your salary – into this one account and use the funds for expenses from the mortgage or rent to eating out. There’s no question where your money is, and you can easily pay bills. Either of you can make checks, withdrawals, and of course deposits. Couples will find a joint banking account convenient because everything is in one pot and there is not much to juggle. If one of you passes away, the other automatically gets the money in the account without having to wait for probate.

Disadvantages: Since both of you have equal control of a joint banking account, either of you can deposit and withdraw money without having to inform the other. Even if this happens unintentionally and without malice, it can cause friction. Say you have $500 in your account and you make a check for $200 for the cable bill and your husband takes out $350 the day before, you will have a bounced check and a negative balance.

If you ever get separated or divorced, a joint banking account can cause big problems. Either of you can clear the account regardless of who deposited most of the money, according to Legal Services for the Elderly in Maine. Although you can take your spouse to court to get the money back, it’s a long process and there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see the money again. In addition to these problems big and small, you and your husband or wife might feel as though you can never spend a dime without first checking in with the other person. This can make some people feel trapped and far less independent, which can cause resentment to build and can be dangerous for your marriage.

How to make it work: A joint banking account is the right choice for some couples. If you decide to have a joint banking account, you will go to a bank and open the account together. You can determine how much to deposit in the account by accounting for your weekly or monthly salaries and coming up with a fair percentage for each of you to deposit. Consider your budget when determining how much you should each contribute. Then, you can also agree on how much you can each withdraw after you’ve paid the bills each month. Discussing these things ahead of time can help you avoid mistakes, such as bouncing a check, and animosity between the two of you.

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