Should You Open A Joint Bank Account With Your Spouse?

Category: Banking & Finance

When it comes to having a partner or being married, the topic of personal finance shifts. We can put a ring on their fingers and exchange vows, but the reality is “til’ death do us part” doesn’t always manifest itself and there will be bumps on the road. 

Managing your finances as a couple doesn’t exactly come with an instruction manual. Ergo, it might be a foreign concept to many. Do you split all the bills in half? Or do you set up a joint bank account? 

There is no right answer for this topic but we hope this article can help you understand more about opening a joint bank account with your spouse. 

1. Benefits of a joint bank account

In an ideal marriage, you and your spouse are a team who plan to grow old together. That means there will be investment choices to be made, properties to be bought, weddings, and honeymoon adventures to experience. All of which involves two people. In that sense, having a joint bank account where both of you contribute evenly can make it even more impactful. 

Not just when things are going great, but if, touch wood, something bad happens to your spouse and they unfortunately passed, you’ll still have access to that account without having to go through a ton of legal process. 

It’s also about making sure that both of you discuss the important decisions. Both of you will be able to see what’s happening in the account. “Teamwork makes the dream work.” 

There is even a study that concluded joint bank accounts can make your marriage happier. 

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2. Drawbacks of a joint bank account

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a price when it comes to mismanaging your joint bank account. 

Having to constantly update and discuss money can be annoying and intrusive, especially when there are so many things we buy on a daily basis. It can even feel like losing independence if each of our purchases has to be justified. 

Another issue could arise if your spouse isn’t very good at managing their money. That means they might have a bad credit score or are in more debt than you. In return, having a joint account may impact your credit score and cause you trouble when you try to get a loan. 

3. Benefits of having separate accounts

Having separate accounts doesn’t mean taking the discussion part out of the equation. The responsibility is still equally shared between both of you and you’ll still need to work out how the bills will get paid. 

Yes, although you are a team, that doesn’t mean every single financial decision has to be made together. What if you felt like getting chewing gum at the petrol station or want to surprise your spouse with a box of chocolates because they looked stressed? 

Using your own account to pay for items can give you the space you need and even grant you the freedom of spending your money on your hobby. 

Related: We Asked Malaysian Bloggers For Financial Management Tips For Couples!

4. Drawbacks of having separate accounts

It goes back to the reason you want a separate account. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons, like wanting to hide your bad spending habits or any other reason you can’t tell your partner. If that’s the case, strictly using a joint bank account will force you to be more accountable. Plus, we’re sure your spouse will be more than happy to work on this issue together with you. 

Transparency is important. Not only on the financial side but also for the relationship. 

Remember, you’re a team now. And often, it’s the both of you against the world so you have to work together if you want a shot at financial independence. 

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How do you make the decision? 

With all these being said, it doesn’t matter whether you have a joint or separate account despite the benefits they may offer. What matters more is communication and being transparent with your goals. 

Ask these questions: 

  • What happens if we’ve accumulated debt together?
  • How are we going to structure our investments and brokerage accounts?
  • How do we manage our spending when we don’t agree on something?
  • How do we contribute equally when one of us has a higher income?
  • What is our approach during emergencies?

If you’re still unsure about which method will work best for you, try both. Everybody has their own preferences, and no strategy is foolproof. One thing for certain is that there will be a lot of adaptation and modifications to fit your lifestyles. Start with having open communication and you’ll figure it out in no time.