Deciding on One Checking Account or Two
Have you recently gotten married? When you get married, it’s important for you and your spouse to decide whether or not you want to combine your finances into one, two, or even three checking accounts. Many couples find that having a discussion about money with their future spouse while they are engaged helps smooth the transition of their independent financial styles into a style that works for both partners once they are married. If you didn't discuss your financial goals and styles with your partner while you were engaged, it's a good idea to have that discussion as soon as possible.
Whether you decide to have separate checking and savings accounts or joint accounts really depends upon your personal styles and whether you think your styles are different enough to require separate finances. If you are a spender and your spouse is a saver (or the opposite), having separate savings and checking accounts is a good way to help prevent arguments about where your money goes.
Separate checking accounts
With separate checking accounts, each of you is responsible for your own personal bills and spending, and your spending money stays separate. While you may have an overall family budget, you’ll also need to each have a personal budget.
When you have separate checking accounts, you have a few options for combined expenses such as mortgage payments and utilities. Either you can split these expenses evenly, each take responsibility for separate charges, or open a third “house” account that you each fund with an agreed upon amount.
Joint checking accounts
When you decide to combine your finances into one joint checking account, communication is key. Work together to develop your family budget and designate one person as the family CFO. While the family CFO is ultimately responsible for maintaining the accounts, paying bills, and doing routine upkeep, both of you are responsible for family spending. Routinely revisit your budget and spending plans together to make sure that you are both on track with your goals. When life changes occur, including raises, changes in jobs, and children, prepare to reevaluate and make changes to your budget.
Regardless of whether you choose a joint account or separate checking accounts, you should still revisit that decision as well as your financial goals on a regular basis. After several years of marriage, you may find that your method isn’t working anymore and, if that’s a case, you should consider a change.