These days, having a conversation about finances with your spouse before you get married is more common. With a 30% increase in moving in together before marriage over the last 20 years, many couples are spending time and effort discussing their finances, expenses, and more. But as far as your money goes, should you share bank accounts with your spouse? Does both of your income need to be combined after marriage? Here is the case for (and against) sharing bank accounts when you’re married.
Should You Share Bank Accounts With Your Spouse?
This post was written by our talented staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.
Why You Should Share Bank Accounts
Is it important to share bank accounts with your spouse, and should you? Here are three solid reasons why you might want to share bank accounts.
1) With a shared bank account, it makes paying for bills and necessary items easier.
After marriage, you are merging your life with your spouse, and typically, that involves merging your money as well. By having one place to keep your incoming money and outgoing expenses organized, you’re less likely to worry about a bill not getting paid or if your spouse took care of that outstanding speeding ticket.
2) It opens up the conversation for money and allows you to be transparent and honest with your spouse.
For example, if one of you is a spender, it will show in your bank statements. When there are financial goals that you want to reach, like saving for a new home, you’re able to get a clearer picture when you share bank accounts.
3) You also ensure that both you and your spouse can access that money at any time.
While you don’t want to think about the future and what could go wrong, like disability or death, it does happen. It also happens more often than someone would think. It’s harder to access money in a separate account. If one spouse passed away or became disabled, it would be harder for the other to access money that they may need to pay bills and keep the household together. Having a joint bank account can offer both of you peace of mind.
Why You Shouldn’t Share Bank Accounts
There are also times where it seems like life would be easier with separate bank accounts.
1) Sharing a bank account could equal major fights about money.
If spouses are polar opposites with money, that can cause friction, arguments, and even divorce in some cases.
For example, maybe you love to hoard your money, but your spouse can never seem to hold on to a dollar. Having a joint bank account could be a disaster for both of you. You would constantly see money being withdrawn from your account, and your partner would feel entitled to take it because it’s “my money too”.
If you had separate checking accounts, neither of you would feel the need to keep the other in check. You could spend (or save) your money how you liked without the other getting upset.
2) The ability to keep your money in your own hands.
No one wants to think about a possible divorce. But they happen. And sometimes, those divorces can get messy when finances and money have been combined for so long. Everyone feels entitled to their fair share, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it. By keeping your money separate, you are drawing the line on who owns what, and what each spouse needs to do to keep their fair share.
3) Gain the Feeling of Independence
Sometimes, depending on the income situation, a spouse might not feel financially independent when they share bank accounts. A stay-at-home mom or dad may feel as if they aren’t independent because they are only seeing their spouses money in their account. If the stay-at-home parent were to have a separate account, even if it only had $100 in it at a time, that is considered their money. In return, they can feel accomplished and independent, and not have to constantly feel like they have to ask their spouse to spend it.
In many cases, having a joint account and separate accounts is the best way to manage your finances as a married couple. This is actually something my husband and I do. For us, my husband is a stay-at-home dad, but he does bring in some income from side hustles and a growing business. It’s important for him to earn his own income, even though I can provide for the family on my income alone.
So, we agreed to have:
- two separate checking accounts,
- two separate savings accounts, and
- a joint account of both.
Our emergency fund is in our joint bank account, and our joint checking account is used for bill paying and regular expenses such as groceries or gas.
In our separate accounts, we keep a few hundred dollars a month for our own spending, without guilt.
- If I want to get my nails done, I don’t ask my husband.
- If he wants a new video game, he buys it without guilt because he’s paying for it with money from his own account.
We also have separate savings accounts that we add money to every month. Should we ever get divorced, we know that the other is not entitled to any money saved in these accounts. This allows us to be transparent about our finances without sacrificing our own financial well-being.
Have Rules In Place
No matter what you do, rules need to be in place. If you are going to share bank accounts, it’s important to have a serious discussion.
- When will one spouse need to ask another spouse for permission to buy something?
- If one is a spender, do they have a limit on what they can spend?
- Will you have weekly or monthly budget meetings?
- When will the bills be paid?
These are all important questions that both of you need to ask and answer. Having these rules in place will keep you both from fighting over money that you’ve both worked hard to earn.
If you are going to have separate accounts, will they still be accessible should one spouse need access? Will you pay bills separately or from a joint account? Who is responsible for what bill? Rules still need to be in place when you have separate accounts. That way, each spouse knows what is expected of them.
Sign A Prenup or Postnup
If you have specific requests about your money and finances, they are valid. Getting married doesn’t translate to your spouse owning you and your finances, and vice versa. Marriage also doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to save money for you and you alone. If you feel that it is necessary to sign a prenup or postnup with your spouse or potential spouse to protect your assets (and even liabilities), then it is worth the conversation. Money can get messy, but it doesn’t have to with a proper plan in place and a binding agreement.
So, should you share bank accounts with your spouse? That all depends on you and your marriage. While there are pros and cons to both separate and joint accounts, each marriage is different. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the best decision for both of you. And no matter what, always communicate and talk about your finances!
What do you do? Do you share bank accounts or do you have separate accounts? Or both? Tell us in the comments below!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a strategy consultant and course launching expert. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or crying over This Is Us, you'll find her teaching other mompreneurs how to scale their business without scaling their workload.