Looking at some of the married couples around us, we realised that most relationships involved both parties working. We wanted to know how these couples manage their finances as a family so we started digging. It appeared that separate or joint accounts are the main methods couples use to manage finances. However, preferences, spending habits, and different stages of life may affect the decision to have separate or joint accounts.
Separate accounts tend to be a more comfortable choice for newly-wedded couples, as you and your spouse may be used to managing your own finances before marriage, and have yet to incur many shared expenses. In cases where couples have contrasting spending habits, where one could be more frugal than the other, it may also be better to have separate accounts to reduce conflicts. It could also make more sense to separate accounts if one party has significant debt, owns a business, or has addiction and gambling issues.
On the other hand, joint accounts provide simplicity as money goes through a single account, which makes it easier to budget and track expenses. For married couples with kids, it may be more convenient to own joint accounts instead of separate accounts. Raising children will lead to a range of additional expenses, which may be confusing to track. If your funds can be monitored from a single joint account, things would be easier.
However, there are several considerations that should be taken into account. Firstly, if the marriage goes awry, your spouse could withdraw the money in the joint account, potentially leaving you with serious financial issues. To protect yourself, you can opt for a joint account instead of a joint-alternate account. The difference is that the latter allows transactions with the approval of one party while the other requires the approval of both parties.
Secondly, your spending habits will be exposed to your spouse, and if the both of you have vastly different spending habits, conflicts are bound to occur. As such, you may want to discuss the uses of your joint account with your spouse beforehand.
Thirdly, disagreements over the amounts to be contributed to your joint account is something that could potentially occur. Whether to put in equal amounts or amounts proportionate to your respective incomes, is something that should be discussed.
Money tends to be a sensitive topic, for singles and couples alike. In our opinion, regardless of having separate or joint accounts, it is crucial to be honest and open with your spouse about financial matters. This would help prevent disagreements, bring stability to your marriage, and ensure a conducive environment for your children to grow up in. Discuss with your spouse, to decide whether a separate account or joint accounts would be a better choice for your family!