Are joint bank accounts for couples a good idea?

Posted on

Are joint bank accounts for couples a good idea

Just married? Then you might be considering opening a joint checking or savings account. If you’re not sure what’s right for you both, take it from personal banker Justine Waba. She had to answer the same question when she and her husband tied the knot.

Having a joint account and keeping separate accounts each has its own benefits. Every couple is unique. So sit down and talk with your spouse to see what will work best.

What are the benefits of joint checking?

You’re already planning on doing most things in life together, right? Why should your bank account situation be any different? Setting up a joint checking account can get you both on the same page when it comes to spending and more.

1. Learn financial responsibility 

Setting up joint checking a good way for you both to learn financial responsibility and keep track of each other's purchases. Perhaps one of you will be better with budgeting and sticking to it. In a constructive way, spouses can hold one another accountable.

2. Increase communication

Talking about and agreeing on spending limits can set your entire household up for financial success. Have candid conversations where you talk openly about your financial needs and how you can both work toward individual and shared goals within your joint account. Money is a top argument trigger, according to Huffington Post. When you communicate about your expectations without finger pointing, you can avoid fights.

3. Reduce bill quarrels

With separate accounts, how will you decide who is paying specific bills? With a joint account, you’ll have an even 50/50 split when it comes to paying for expenses like rent or a mortgage, utilities, and emergency purchases. You won’t have to argue about who is paying more.  

4. Access funds in unfortunate circumstances 

While it’s unpleasant, you need to plan for the unexpected. If you have separate checking and savings accounts and your spouse passes away, you may not be able to access his or her funds. If the closed-off account paid the monthly bills, this could mean trouble. With joint checking, both parties can access funds independently. 

Are there any drawbacks to joint checking?

Of course, there are always two sides to every story. But knowing what both are can help you make a sound decision. 

1. Two checkbooks and debit cards

You’ll likely receive two checkbooks and debit cards for the shared account (or one for each of you). You’ll both be responsible for safeguarding these items. If one spouse loses a card or forgets to record a check he or she wrote, it could cause a fight. You’ll also have two checkbooks to balance at the end of the month. Together, plan for responsible account management. 

2. Your spouse knows about all spending.

While transparency is good in marriage, not everyone may feel comfortable having their spouse know about every purchase. For example, if you want to buy your significant other a gift, this could spoil the surprise factor.  

3. Both spouses are paying for one spouse's past.

Do you or your partner have student loans or debt from the single life? Some newlyweds find themselves paying for these bill years after saying, “I do.” While some couples don’t mind sharing the expense, others prefer to keep personal premarital debt separate.

Should I open multiple bank accounts?

Many couples opt for separate checking accounts and a joint savings account. At Plains Commerce Bank, we often see a joint “bills” checking account, separate “spending” checking accounts, and then a joint savings. This is another good way to prevent arguments from arising.

Need help deciding?

Every couple is unique. If you need assistance, stop into a Plains Commerce Bank location and ask to speak with a personal banker about opening a joint account. Even if you don’t open it the same day, our bankers can talk with you about your options. Search our locations.