Choosing Between Separate and Joint Bank Accounts

By Stock Research Pro • April 2nd, 2009

While it was once pretty much given that a newly married couple would share their finances in a single account, this is no longer the case. More and more couples seem to favor a system in which each spouse gets their own money and often a third account is set up as a joint account. The theory is that, under this approach, the couple can plan and prepare for their future together while maintaining a semblance of financial freedom. While combining all of your finances into a single account can seem daunting (especially if you have very different ideas about spending and saving), separating your finances could be equally challenging.

Keeping Separate Bank Accounts

Many couples choose to go this route not only so that each may maintain a sense of financial freedom, but because it’s easy. Before you got married, chances are you both had your own bank accounts and paid your own bills. It’s a system you’re used to, so why change it? But couples who choose to maintain separate accounts need to figure out how to handle the shared expenses, how to plan for larger financial goals and how to save for retirement. While this option provides each spouse with the highest level of financial freedom, it requires a high-level of communication and planning between the partners.

Keeping a Single, Joint Account

Some couples do not like this idea because they feel they have to be accountable to their partner for every single expense they incur. If both spouses are comfortable with it though, this can be the easiest approach. But it does require a little more work in the beginning as the partners set ground rules and reach agreement on financial goals and the best ways to reach them. This approach also works very if one of the partners prefers to not have to deal with the finances (assuming the other is willing and able).

Keeping Three Bank Accounts

There is a third, hybrid, approach under which each spouse maintains his/her own account while a third is set up as a joint account. This joint account can be used to pay shared expenses and serve as a savings account to plan for long-term financial goals. The front-end work under this approach is in agreeing on those longer-term goals and how much each will contribute to this account.


The above information is educational and should not be interpreted as financial advice. For advice that is specific to your circumstances, you should consult a financial or tax advisor.

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