One of the most common discussions that I hear from people considering walking down the isle, or those who have already gotten hitched, is the age old topic of whether or not couples should have joint bank accounts – and whether they should share their finances. It can be a touchy topic to discuss because it really digs down deep to the core of a relationship, the levels of trust that there is for the partners, and just how strong the relationship is. It's can often lead to arguments, so it's no wonder that people often avoid the topic like the plague before they get married. I believe, however, that it should be discussed.
Have The “Joint Finances Discussion”
It's a discussion that my wife and I have had in the past, and to some degree we've not completely agreed upon. I have always been of the belief that when you get married, two become one. You should become one in that you share everything, including joining your finances to become a family financial situation. If one partner has debt, the other partner takes that debt on as well. If one has a large savings account, you both have it now. Everything should be shared -both the good and the bad.
My wife, while she theoretically believes in two partners becoming one, has come from a household where that hasn't always been practiced. One parent came from an abusive first marriage, and as a result ended up not being as trusting in a lot of things, especially financial things. Because of that my wife learned that you need to be wary of sharing finances, and always have your own accounts and money – “just in case”. That belief that was engendered in her from an early age wasn't an easy one to overcome.
Because of that level of mis-trust that she had learned from her parents, we never joined our finances completely. We had a joint budget, family budget meetings and we had joint financial goals, however, we never actually joined our bank accounts. We just each had our own checking accounts, and savings accounts. It seemed to work ok, but it just left me with a sour taste in my mouth for some reason. Probably because I felt like I wasn't trusted by my spouse.
We Finally Joined Our Accounts
This year after we had our first child we finally had the discussion again. We were at a crossroads in our relationship, and we're now heading down the road of being parents, and embracing other challenges. My wife is now a stay at home mom, and as a result we started talking once again about having joint accounts. This time she was more agreeable to the idea, mostly I think because she has matured in the relationship and has a higher level of trust in me. I believe now that we have joint accounts it will lead to a greater sense of unity in our relationship, mean less mis-communication about our money, and force us to have less of an individualistic outlook on our relationship – one where there is a “mine vs. yours” outlook. We might even end up with a better bank balance!
Reasons I Think Joint Accounts Are A Good Idea
There are a lot of reasons I think joint accounts are a good idea.
- Fosters greater unity and less individualism in the relationship: When you join your finances, and other aspects of your relationship it means you have to become more united, and less individualistic. I know for me remembering that I was now in a relationship where I had to think more about the other person than myself was hard. Joining finances helps that.
- Creates better communication about money: When you are sharing an account, you have to communicate more about what's coming in and going out by necessity. More communication is a good thing, however, and you'll probably find you're in a better financial situation as well.
- Gives a different perspective on money: Forcing yourselves to be accountable to the other person, and giving up some ownership of your money is a good reminder that “our money” really isn't our money anyway, it's all God's. Remembering that it all belongs to God makes it easier to release some of that control for me.
Now I should also mention that I don't think joint accounts are ever a good idea unless and until you are married. The same goes for other financial arrangements like mortgages and loans. I would never enter into any of those arrangements until I was married as it can cause more problems than you could imagine.
So what do you think? Are joint accounts a good idea like I lay out, or do you think having separate accounts is alright as well? Tell me your thoughts on joining finances in the comments!