Is a Joint Bank Account the Secret to a Happy Marriage?

Piggy banks on wedding cake
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Personal finance is just that -- personal. When you're single, you, yourself, and you have complete control over your bank account. Only you know how much you spend on your secret Russian nesting doll collection. But then you find a special someone to take down the aisle. You'll share your life with that person, but will you share your finances?

Well, that's a complicated question, since "finances" could refer to any number of areas, from your mortgage to your debt. But one of the most basic and fundamental financial decisions that married couples make is whether to share a bank account. There are compelling arguments on either end of the spectrum for and against joint banking. And ultimately, it's a personal decision between you, your spouse and Dr. Phil. And Dr. Phil's gonna tell you to keep your accounts separate. But my husband and I did just the opposite. Soon after we said "I do," we said goodbye to our individual checking accounts. Not only have we never regretted it, but we think joint banking has actually brought us closer together.

Here's why:

Transparency

Money flies in and out of our bank account faster than our baby crawls away during a diaper change. But tracking exactly how much we're spending and saving is fairly easy when we're using a central account for most of our transactions. We each have a few individual credit cards, but we pay them off with our joint account. It ensures we're always both aware of where our money is coming from and going to because we have a shared account that we both see.

One Financial Mindset

Opening our joint checking account and closing our separate accounts immediately changed the way we look at our finances.
The money was no longer mine or his -- it was ours, literally and figuratively. And we still think about it that way. We don't bring home identical paychecks, but we both stick to identical budgets. We've budgeted out personal spending for ourselves, but we each get the same amount. And our financial goals are the same, too. It's easy for us to stay on the same financial path and stick to our financial goals when neither of us has ownership over a certain percentage of our money.

Shared Awareness

Because all of our spending is aired out for the other person to see, we don't keep any financial secrets. We know what the other person spends, and on what. While this may sound a bit stifling, it keeps both of us from creating unhealthy spending habits. And more importantly, it keeps an open line of communication about our spending. Of course, all bets are off around birthdays and Christmas. (We have a "no peeking at the bank account" rule to keep from spoiling any surprises.) We even let loose every once in a while. Can you tell how wild and crazy we are? Kidding.

Of course, there are other considerations. We married young, and the only financial baggage we brought into our marriage was my student loan debt (which became a joint effort to pay off). If we'd been older and more settled, the decision to share our finances would have been a more significant one. But as the saying goes, "The couple that banks together stays together." Or maybe I just made that up. While joint banking isn't for every marriage, it works for us. And maybe it's the financial recipe for you, too.

Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget.


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RouteUS66Busload

NO!

January 25 2014 at 4:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Reiter

read my book "Even Doctors Cry"amazon on sale and then get back to me with opinion wojge@aol.com

January 23 2014 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jimmy_branch

Are False Teeth Gimme a break..............

January 23 2014 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
backdoc301

That's the stupidest thing I ever read...

January 22 2014 at 6:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Connie

marriage is not about what's your is mine and what's mine is my own. married couples should know from the start that working as a couple for a future to share is team work. I have always handled the finances and if my husband needed to see something he would know exactly where to look to find it. no secrets ,nothing hidden. Fifty years later it is still run the same way so we must be doing something right.

January 22 2014 at 6:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ebabe

This is ridiculous! My married friends always complain about their spouse spending too much money from their joint account.

January 22 2014 at 6:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
sunflower4405

The secret to a happy marriage is to stay single........never, ever get married!

January 22 2014 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
greatbirdusa

And if you have a joint account for years but then discover
she opened a single hidden account at another bank......

January 22 2014 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fazr

"Yes Dear"

January 22 2014 at 3:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
goodgrief61945

I was briefly married for six months , ten years ago. My wife deposited her check in an account that only she could access. She obviously wanted me to pay for her whole ride. Just one of the reasons it only lasted six months.

January 22 2014 at 3:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply