My wife and I first met in late 2006, as 19 year old University students. We’ve been together for over 13 years now, and have been married for 6 years. However, we didn’t get joint bank accounts until August 2018, almost 4 years into our marriage and 11 years together as a couple.
Part of the reason why we maintained completely separate bank accounts was due to habit. We just simply never joined them as we’d always had separate bank accounts. The other part of the reason was that we wanted to maintain an element of independence.
To us, having our “own” money seemed like it gave us freedom and independence. But, the problem with maintaining complete control over the money you earn, is that it creates a sense of ‘yours and mine’.
What we discovered over the years is that having a ‘yours and mine’ system when it comes to money, is a conduit for conflict.
When you live as a couple, there are many shared expenses that can be split equally in half, such as rent. But, then there are other expenses that one of you might just purchase, such as beer. When there are many expenses that either one of you sorts out, it can be difficult to ensure that you’re both contributing an even amount.
On top of that is the complexity of one person earning more than the other. Do you pay the same amounts for bills? Or, does the person earning more pay more? These questions can lead to disagreements and conflict. They did for us, many times over throughout the years.
When we finally decided to get joint bank accounts, we were nervous. It’s a big step to go from having such financial independence and individual accountability, to having everything become ‘ours’, and becoming accountable to each other. However, it turns out, we had nothing to be nervous about.
Before joining bank accounts, we made sure we were on the same page with what our financial goals were, and how we should spend our money. To ensure we maintained an element of independence and freedom, we agreed that we would each get a 10% allocation of our overall income to spend on whatever we want each fortnight. So, when we set up our joint bank accounts, we also set up an individual account each.
Since joining bank accounts, we no longer fight about money like we used to. We no longer worry about who’s making more money, or who’s paid more bills… It all just comes out of the one pool of money, that’s ours.
For us, removing the ‘yours and mine’ concept from money, has given us freedom. It’s removed a big stress from our lives. And best of all, it’s given us a true sense of shared financial purpose.
Reasons not to get joint bank accounts
If you are considering whether you should or shouldn’t get joint bank accounts with your partner, there’s a few things to consider first.
If one of you is a Spendy McSpender that can’t or won’t reign it in, it’s probably not a wise idea to get joint bank accounts. From my observations over the years, if you have one person in a relationship that spends lots of money on non-essentials and one person that has to sort all of the “adult” expenses, having joint bank accounts only leads to arguments. This is because having more money available in an account can lead to the spender just spending even more, which leaves less money available for expenses and discretionary funds for the non-spender… Leading to financial stress and resentment.
Financial abuse is a serious issue and is more common than you might think. Financial abuse involves controlling a person’s ability to acquire, use and/or maintain money. Those suffering from financial abuse may have their own money restricted or stolen, and rarely have free access money, often needing to account for how each penny is spent. If you are in an abusive relationship, or suspect your partner may financially abuse you, please get help and discuss your situation with a professional. Joining your bank accounts could make your situation worse.
Getting joint bank accounts with your partner is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make. A big part of why it has worked so well for me is that my wife and I are equals in our household. Neither one of us is in ‘control’ of the money, we both simply discuss all of our financial decisions and have an equal say over what we spend our money on.
Additionally, we are both honest and transparent with each other, and operate as a team when it comes to spending and saving. If we didn’t operate like this, I’m sure that having joint bank accounts could have been a lot more stressful, and nowhere near as successful.
For some people, joint bank accounts can lead to disaster. For us, it was the best financial decision we’ve ever made.