To Join, or Not to Join - Considering Finances in Marriage

For some people, the idea of a joint bank account feels terrifying, like losing your independence, while others can’t imagine getting married and not having a joint account with their spouse. It is crucial to have this conversation, as it dictates how the household finances are handled. A joint account means taking shared responsibility for paying all bills and making savings goals together, and truly saying, “What’s mine is yours” with only mutually agreed upon limitations.

Having joint accounts can streamline bill payments, facilitate an attitude of transparency and trust with your spouse, and ensure that money is never out of reach in case of emergencies. Saving and spending habits need to be discussed beforehand to ensure that both partners are comfortable with the situation.

Separate accounts, on the other hand, allow each spouse to maintain a degree of financial freedom, while still working together to ensure all bills get paid and savings goals are met. A couple may opt for separate accounts for many reasons, including when only one partner brings in student loans, credit card debt or child support, so the other partner won’t have to worry about feeling resentment over paying for that debt.

Some couples also opt to meet in the middle, with separate personal accounts and a joint mutual account for savings, bills, or kids’ college tuition. While joint accounts foster trust and offer a clear financial picture, separate accounts promote autonomy and minimize opportunities for financial fights over spending and saving differences.

However you decide to go about your finances, it’s good to ask the following questions:

  • Do either of us have a strong opinion about joint versus separate?

  • If we have separate accounts, how will we pay the bills?

  • Do you agree to have full financial disclosure at all times, or would you like some privacy?

  • How should we go about paying off the debt accumulated together or separately?

  • How will we manage everyday spending on household purchases?

  • How will we financially handle emergencies?

  • Do you have any negative feelings related to talking about money?

After you’ve discussed these questions together and really talked about your financial situation and expectations, you should have a good understanding of your personal opinions about finances, as well as those of your partner. However you decide to go about your finances once married, remember that each couple is different, and there is no right or wrong solution.

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“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." - Mark 10:9

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