Should Couples Have A Joint Account?

We weigh in the pros and cons.
It's true that money can't buy love, but it's also one of the biggest causes of arguments between couples. As if spending decisions aren't complicated enough ("should we buy that stereo set", "how much loan should we take out on the SUV?"), try adding savings arrangements to the equation. One of the trickiest questions newlywed couples face is, should we have a joint account or keep our money separate?

There's no "right" or "wrong" way, say experts, but taking your money personalities and needs into consideration can help you decide which will work best for you as a couple. Two experts weigh in the pros and cons.

Joint accounts

The we-share-everything couple
Couples who pool their money in a joint account see this as a reflection of their marriage, and a sign of unity and trust. Sharing your assets sounds romantic, but it only works when you agree, for the most part, on how money should be spent and saved.

"Such a plan demands that newlyweds take care to communicate and cooperate about their finances, since they are depositing and withdrawing money from the same account," says Miriam Arond, co-author of The First Year Of Marriage. It also means that you have to respect each other enough not to grill your partner about every purchase that is made.

There's a biggie, though: If you and your partner have very different ways of spending money (for example, you're prudent and he's a spendthrift), your personality differences can create friction when one of you resent seeing purchases you don't approve.

And then there's the issue of income differences: If there is a big difference in income between you and your partner, this could lead to inequality in decision-making power, adds Arond.

Separate accounts

The independent couple
Keeping your cash in separate accounts doesn't mean that your marriage lacks commitment; it simply means you like the autonomy of managing your money as you see fit. You pay from your individual account for your common expenses, such as morgage, electricity, food, vacations -- either 50-50 or in proportion to how much you earn -- and what's left is used for your individual purposes.

The upside: "Having your own account, you may feel more independent, and won't have to worry about what your mate will say about your each and every purchase," says Arond.

This separatist arrangement, however, can make paying for your shared expenses a hassle. Plus, because there's less communication involved, it may delay your developing a joint financial plan. It also means you're less likely to have a clear picture of your partner's current financial status.

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