Should Married Couples Have Separate or Joint Bank Accounts?

What are the pros and cons of having separate or joint bank accounts? Here are some things you should keep in mind before you tie the knot.

When Debbie, 30, opened a joint bank account with her husband Greg, she had no idea it would take such a toll on her marriage. During their first year living together, they kept separate bank accounts, and everything ran smoothly. But after pooling their resources together, Greg became controlling and obsessed with her spending.

She couldn’t even withdraw $20 without him asking how she was going to use the money. Debbie and her husband are now (surprise, surprise) separated, and though she’s sad her marriage fell apart, Debbie is thankful for her regained freedom.

Joint Bank Account for couples: Yay or nay?

Not every couple who opens a joint bank account ends up like Debbie and Greg. But finances are a major source of conflict in marriages, which is why it’s important that you and your spouse agree on whether or not you should have a joint account. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. You and your spouse are a team

Regardless of whether or not you choose to open a joint bank account, you and your spouse should have the same financial goals and work towards that together. Figure out how much you want to save in a certain time period, and base your budget and savings on that.

2. Transparency and communication is key

If you want to have a successful marriage, you must be open and transparent with each other—and not just about finances.

Having a joint bank account is one way to foster a sense of unity, but you don’t have to combine all your finances to do this. Even if you decide on separate bank accounts, you should always think of how your spending impacts your partner (and your family, if you have kids).

3. Why not have both?

Again, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this. In fact, plenty of couples now choose to have both separate and joint bank accounts. In this ParentTown thread, Grace D. wrote:

“Have separate accounts and also one joint account. But make sure you agree to this arrangement and you still practice financial transparency and honesty with each other… The joint account is for household expenses while the separate accounts are for your personal allowance/spending.”

4. Your choice won’t make or break your marriage

As with many other things, this really comes down to you and your partner’s preferences. When it comes to finances, what matters most is that you have your partner’s back and trust that he/she has yours as well.

Both separate and joint bank accounts have their pros and cons, so no one can really say that one way is objectively better than another. The trick is to make sure that whatever you and your partner decide on, you’re absolutely confident that you’re both on the same page. All it takes to is mutual trust, respect, and lots and lots of communication.

READ: You can’t be financially ready for marriage unless you’ve asked yourself these questions