Should husband and wife have joint versus individual checking accounts?
Some spouses might say whatever amount of money they earn through their job is their money. They might take responsibility for paying some of the bills (usually divided proportionally with the other spouse), but the rest of their paycheck is for them to use in whatever way they choose.
On the other hand, some might reason that once you’re married you become one in life and that goes for your finances too. This group of spouses will tell you it doesn’t matter the source of the income (your check or mine), it all gets deposited into one account and they manage it together.
What’s the Right Answer?
So, is there a right answer? Biblically speaking, Mark 10:8 says that husband and wife become one flesh. Personally, I believe one flesh means one in everything we do and that includes managing money.
Since my wife and I got married we’ve had just one checking account that we manage together. I can say that it’s worked quite well for us. As the family CFO (family nerd), I pay all the bills and track the budget. However, my wife participates in all the financial decisions and helps in creating our budget each month.
Is it more challenging to work together and maintain one account? No way! Here are some things we do to keep it simple and why it’s worked for us for over 13 years.
Tips to Make Joint Accounts Work
1. Agreement on Income
When we tied the knot, we decided that my income was her income and her income was my income. It doesn’t matter how much each of us earn individually. It’s ours to manage together as stewards and it all comes from God anyway.
2. Have a Plan
Overall, the checking account is just a convenience for paying bills and a place to deposit our income each month. But the most important tool is our family budget that we manage together. Our budget is our plan and it’s how we get on the same page with our financial decisions. We always decide in advance where our money is going to go each month.
3. Budget Pocket Money
Pocket money is no questions asked money. Each of us gets pocket money in our budget and it’s an equal amount. It’s totally up to each of us if we want to blow our pocket money. We don’t have the right to ask or ridicule the other person since it was budgeted and planned for in advance.
4. Communicate About Money
Communication is key. We do our best to make time each week to have a budget meeting and talk about money decisions so that we can ensure we’re on the same page regarding expenses and how we’re managing our finances. While having a budget is important, a weekly budget meeting is just as important so that money discussions don’t pop up in every conversation.
5. Keep it Simple
I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about managing money is to keep things simple. Life is busy and difficult enough as it is and you don’t want to over complicate your finances to the point that it takes too much time to manage them. That’s one reason why we use money management software.
In addition, multiple sets of debit cards and accounts for one family is just way too much for me. I know it’s not a great thought, but if one spouse were to become ill or pass, there is a lot more to manage and figure out during an inconvenient time. Keep it simple.
It’s obviously up to each couple to decide to have either joint or separate accounts. As a topic I feel strongly about, nothing says “together as one” more than combining your finances.
What are your thoughts or experiences with single or joint accounts?