There are lots of ways to handle money within a marriage, but my husband and I choose to have joint banking. We actually joined our bank accounts about a year before we got engaged. We already lived together and had a dog, and we knew we would get married, so sharing money seemed like the next logical step in our relationship.
With joint banking comes lots of questions, like…
How do you surprise each other with joint banking?
Do you still buy things for yourself with joint checking?
Why did you choose to have joint banking?
Does it make you nervous sharing every penny?
Who pays the bills in your marriage?
And, I’m sure a lot more!
I’m going to do my best to answer these questions and explain why and how joint banking works for our marriage.
Why We Decided to Have Joint Banking
I grew up exposed to joint banking in my household, so joint checking and savings seemed like a non-issue to me in a marriage. My mom always worked, then took years off when my younger sister was born. However, she was still the one to manage our family budget and pay the bills while my step-dad worked. There were never questions about who was spending money and how much of it, and it was a healthy example of joint banking. So, I always imagined I’d have that, too.
When Jake and I started dating in college, we both had little money. (Duh.) We would take turns picking up tabs, but keeping up with whose turn it was annoyed me. If I paid for two things in a row, I’d become resentful and frustrated. Many times, we’d plan to pay for our own meals while we were out, but the server would bring us one check, assuming we wanted it that way. I hated having to ask the server to split it or decide who would pick up the tab.
Shortly after I graduated college, we decided to merge our bank accounts. We were already splitting rent, groceries, bills, etc., and we were ready to take another step in our relationship. Very early on in our relationship we shared our financial information, like how much debt, student loans, etc. we each had. So, when we decided to start our joint banking account, there were no questions or talks that had to occur. We knew what the other had to pay. So, we moved all our money into a new bank with new accounts and closed our individual accounts.
We absolutely loved sharing money. So much of our finances were already connected due to sharing bills, and it felt good to bring that full circle. We both still love how easy joint banking makes Christmas shopping, planning vacation, going out to eat and everything in between.
How Joint Banking Works in Our Marriage
We have a joint checking account and a joint savings account, and neither of us have separate accounts. We do have our own separate credit cards. We know our monthly budget, like how much we spend on bills, how much we want to transfer to savings and how much we can spend each week to keep ourselves on the right track. Neither one of us are big spenders. We trust the other always has our financial best interest in mind, so it works for us.
If we want to surprise the other with something, we’ll just tell them not to look at the bank account. Or, we’ll put the purchase on our personal credit card and pay off the balance later. Does it take away from receiving a gift knowing it was bought with “half” of your money? Not at all! A gift is about the fact that the person wanted to buy you something you’d love. The money isn’t half mine and half is. It’s our money.
I’ve also never really been someone who buys a lot of things for myself. (I get it from my mama.) However, I did start shopping for myself more a few years ago, and it was at the encouragement of my husband. So, I wouldn’t say that joint checking deters me from spending on myself.
The one tricky part about joint banking is you never know what the other person will buy each week. For example, is he going to go out to lunch four days this week? That could end up being about $80 in one week. And what if I also bought a new expensive moisturizer that week? It would be fine, but it helps when both people are aware. That’s why it’s helpful for us both to know how much “fun money” can be spent each week, so we know how much is left to work with.
Communicating about Money in Our Marriage
Money can be one of the greatest sources of arguments in a marriage. Someone’s spending too much; someone’s not involving the other in financial decisions; someone’s not being truthful about money, etc.
Luckily, I can only think of one time when Jake and I had tension about married finances. And, it could have been avoided had we communicated our feelings instead of letting them evolve into resentment.
If one of us feels like the other is spending too much or wants to buy something pricey that isn’t a good choice at the time, we say so. We aren’t afraid to speak up or voice our opinions.
Paying Bills with Joint Banking
Early on in our joint banking days, we’d both equally paid the bills. It was like, “Hey, the water bill’s due, did you pay it yet? Okay, I will.” However, life has transitioned, and Jake has picked up the responsibility of paying most of our bills.
Jake handling our bills works fine for us. He knows exactly when bills auto-draft out of our account and when we’ll have income auto-drafting into our account. He manages it well, and I truly appreciate those efforts, so I try to tell him that often.
I’ve asked if he’d like me to take on paying certain bills, and he declines, so I don’t think he minds the responsibility. I will say I know it was stressful for him to manage our bills when my income would fluctuate while I freelanced. But, communicating our concerns or ideas helped keep everything on track.
So, that’s how joint banking works in our marriage! I can’t imagine our finances being any other way. But, every relationship is different, and there’s no right or wrong way to manage married finances. I have plenty of married friends with bank accounts separate from their spouses, and know of friends’ parents who have been keeping their finances separate for decades.