Thursday, April 29, 2010

He Said She Said: Joint Checking Accounts

Every other Thursday, two of our contributors are asked to take opposing stances on an issue and present a case for their viewpoint. Comment and tell us who you agree with or what you believe or think! The topics are suppose to illicit a response and start a conversation in comments. Enjoy!

Topic: Joint Accounts. Yes or No?

She Said

This subject has always been a fascinating one to me so I was excited to voice my opinion.<---I know I AM ALWAYS excited to voice my opinion so shut it..

Me and Duke are "old fashioned". Very conservative. Fairly no nonsense (I'm the boss and he is not)...

When I got married there was no discussion whether or not to have joint accounts. I guess part of this is the way I was raised. You get married, you pool your money (including debt), I take his last name, he takes my parents as his own for better or worse.... snort.

Then I started talking to friends and realized this isn't a universal practice. Some wives get an "allowance", some spouses have separate checking accounts and the bills are divvied out between the two and one person is responsible for the house payment and the other takes care of other expenses.

This was totally foreign to me. Why would you take the time to do this?

DO you not trust your spouse?

If you don't, why would you marry them?

If it isn't a trust issue then what is it?

Maybe each spouse wants the freedom to spend money the way they want to without having to "hear about it" later? Let's explore that a bit...

If we have good communication & organization skills, if we share the same goals financially and are both responsible enough to stick to a budget... then there is no need for this. We should never worry about having to "hear about" ANYTHING in our marriage, right? It should be a mutual respect without fear of retribution.

So what if one spouse proves not to be fiscally responsible, but you love them and this is the only way to keep the peace? I see that... I HAVE seen that in friends. I don't know how I would handle that... maybe I would opt for separate budgets and accounts.

It makes me sad.

To me, Marriage is JOINT. It is TOGETHER. It is a meeting of the minds. If you are unable to do that then I think it may be time to evaluate the deeper problems that inhibit you from accomplishing this.

*waiting for the backlash*

He Said:

So let's talk about Joint Checking accounts.

For the sake of FULL disclosure, I am a banker, and I write this from a perspective of someone who is married and also from the perspective of a banker, who has seen the ugly side of having a joint account.

Why have a joint checking account? The answer is easy. You either want to be micromanaged by your spouse, or you want to micromanage your spouse.

Joint accounts may have few upsides, but the downsides are rather large.

Many marriages are centered around money. Money = happiness in too many marriages in America, and who cares if it is right or not, it is just the way it is. Everyone wants to say communication is the key to a happy marriage, but I am not sitting around the dining room table having dinner talking about the balance of my checking account.

I understand that my money isn't JUST my money, but rather OUR money. I work and make money to provide for my family, but I have no desire to keep my wife on such a short leash or give the illusion that I want to know what she is doing. You need to give your partner latitude to do what they think is right, because if my wife had to tell me about the purchases she made as she made them, or visa-versa, after a while, you start to think your spouse is passing judgement, not to mention that having a joint account completely messes up getting gifts for holidays. If my wife had access to my account balance details, she would know that for mother's day I ordered flowers, ordered a pandora charm, and that I have money stocked away to take her out for our anniversary. What happened to spontaneity?

I have also seen how joint accounts can break a marriage. If you have two people on one account, and you fail to tell your spouse of your purchases at Target for 37.87 and you used your debit card, you run the risk of over drafting your account and paying a ton of fees. Why pay a fee when you can just manage your own stipend?

Joint accounts are not an ideal situation, it just opens too many risks to pay fees, lose money, and spoil the surprises.

Okay now it's up to you!!! Comment away. What side do you take? Joint Accounts yes? or no?


Oka said...

I have to say a joint account is not the sole reason for marriage troubles. There is much deeper problems if you are going to allow an account to tear you apart. It's just an excuse.

Bri said...

Joint account YES. It shows trust and commitment to meeting challenges together. That doesn't mean you toss every penny you own into that account - my husband and I each keep a portion of our paychecks (in cash) for fun money, so there's no tension over who's spending what. All of our bills are joint, so why shouldn't the checking account be?

Vodka Logic said...

Holy crap my entire comment disappeared..

I have been married for 29 years and we did not have a joint account until the last 5 years or so and that is because the credit union insisted on it for a was a new rule because i had had loans with them before. The account was originally mine and still is for all intents and purposes. We had our own accounts when we got married and just keep it the same.. As Adam pointed out we didn't mess up each others balance by having to account for every cent we spent. And now with the popularity of debit cards i carry little cash and the accountability would be exhausting.
We have both worked for our entire marriage and pay the bills equally for the most part. We have settled into a he pays certain ones I pay the others. Sure we help each other out as needed and we share the money but for the most part his is his and mine is mine.
The one expense I do feel I share the lions load on is the kids.. school expenses, field trips, clothes, entertainment...
Credit cards work the same way. We do have each others names on them but there are cards he uses and pays and cards I use and pay for.

Doe we argue about money sure... but we argue about other things as well.
I say what works for one family may not work for another... he cooks I don't.....

Vodka Logic said...

Just to add.... we don't see trust as an issue. It is just how it works for us.
He knows my big expenses i know his.. no big deal

Anonymous said...

I have read a fair amount of financial advice from various people and to my recollection none of them preferred the split accounts. I'm sure some do just none that I read. We have 3 accounts, plus two additional business accounts. We have his hers and ours. The ours account is the "house" account. The reason that I did this is because my bride chose to borrow money from the bank $35.00 at a time because she would not write down every check she wrote.
Also I believed she was spending too much on things. Like in the budget we had if we had budgeted $100.00 for groceries she'd spend $150.00 or whatever. So the 3 accounts worked because I said "I don't care what you spend on groceries but all they will be in the house account for groceries is $100.00 so if you'd like to spend more take it from your account.

* I spend zero of the house dollars.

Works for us. She has become far more responsible with the money since then and the house account has MADE money because she stays on it.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

After we got married he just took over. Signed me up on his accts and I signed him up on mine. I was young.

But I did and still do trust him. I got a job as a teller and started slowly taking control of our finances. The buying gifts became a problem because I live off spontaneity so I started putting money in his acct that I will still joint owner of but did have easy access to, like not even online banking, we never set it up and still never have and whatever he does with that is up to him.

But after I left my job as a teller I didn't access the accounts all the time and admittedly I'm not very good with money, bills are always paid on time and first, but sometimes a pair of new shoes outweighs cereal. So slowly we have worked together and realized we need our OWN money as well as OUR money together.

But we do both have all access to all of our accounts... And I wouldn't have it any other way!

DCHY said...

Early on in our relationship, I could see that my wife wasn't very good at holding onto money. She actually got mad at me when I didn't want a joint account. I finally assented to that a year later and the money I had...disappeared in months. She did try to blame me for spending it all so I left her in charge of paying the bills. She saw where all the money was going and promptly shut up. I would spend on average $20 to $30 a month for myself and I still do. She finally got her spending habits under control and we are starting to enjoy things that we could not afford. In fact, we have a trip to Florida in June and the girls have NEVER experienced the smell or sight or taste of the ocean.

Amethyst Moon said...

I'm with Chief. We've had our joint checking account now, for 18 years, and we can't understand why others don't. At one point he brought in incoe while I stayed home and then I worked while he stayed home, and now, that we both work, why would we want to go through the trouble of separating it?! when we took vows it was that together we're one, and that includes our money!

Vodka Logic said...

It is interesting that the posts are saying women [or their woman] are the bad spenders. Also the trust issue.. I find trust doesn't play apart in our seperate accounts at all. We had them seperate when we married and they just stayed that way. I nor my husband have anything to hide.
Sure when we married it became us.. that has nothing to do with our accounts.. we share and share alike if need be.
Don't get me wrong if he wanted to pay All the bills or could I would let him.. just like I would have a maid and a cook, oh wait I do..between him and the daughters.

Florida Dom said...

We have a joint account but she has little interest in managing our money and let's me handle it. Not really a big issue with us.


Meagan@Megs7827 said...

I have to say this isn't really a he said/she said since you kind of seem to agree. But I think what Adam said is really important. I don't think people think about things like that. I gotta ask my Hubby if my name is on our joint savings account. I need that money if he croaks! We have joint accounts and separate accounts. Before we got married the plan was to keep everything seperate because I always thought it was silly when my parents bought each other gifts because it was like being yourself a gift. I wanted to be able to buy a Louis Vuitton for myself if I wanted to. Now he guilt trips me if I want to be a $30 dress. Tells me he thought we we are trying to save for a house.

Joanna Cake said...

Yeeha, I can say good stuff about my ex :) He insisted on a joint account as soon as we shacked up together even tho he earned twice as much as me. Initially any big purchases we would discuss together but it was me who ran the financial side of keeping the house straight and buying groceries.

As time went by, he began to spend as much as he earned - which was A LOT. I tried to talk about saving for the future but he didnt seem interested.

When things started to look dodgy for the business, I began making it look as if there was less in the joint account than there was so he couldnt spend it and I built up a solid nest egg so that if things went really bad, we would have at least three months cover whilst he found another job.

That money is still there and it has been agreed that it will be used as the deposit on a new home for me in the future.

Even tho we are separated, we still share a current account into which both our salaries are paid and I still run his house... and mine.

And, unbeknown to him, I still make it look as if there is less in the account than there is by saving it in a separate account so that he has a nest egg for the future too.

If you could only see the looks on all your faces :)

Yup... probably only in the UK... and even here we are extremely odd!

Joanna Cake said...

PS I have a lot of friends who have separate accounts where the husband who tends to be the major earner pays his wife 'housekeeping'. In most cases it is because the wife has a bad credit history.

I know one bank worker who got into a lot of trouble because his wife went overdrawn on their account.

I do think there has to be trust but if one partner has a 'problem' with spending money they don't have, then it is up to the other partner to look after them both and prevent it from recurring.

TQ Writer said...

Truth be told, I could argue the merits of both sides of the coin.

I have joint checking accts, I also have seperate checking accts.

When it comes down to it, communicate, but I don't find either way good or bad. It all comes down to, what works for you?

If a joint account is the way to go, you'd better know what you are getting into.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Joanna-- that's nuts!!! Lol! What a twist!?

Well whatever works.

VL-I think it's not someone saying people don't trust if they have separate accounts, maybe they were, for me it's about trusting someone enough to let them take part in it.

But also, I think trusting your spouse enough to Have a separate account is also true...

For me though the HIS and MINe thing is like roommates rather than spouses or whatever, but that is just me.

Keeping certain money separate to budget and stuff is okay, but I have every right to his money as he does to mine when I said the words I DO.

But again, that's just personal preference :)

Chief said...

Guys! I am out today! Getting ready for a trip!

I am reading comments when I can and as long as everyone agrees with me.. life will be good!



That is all

Vodka Logic said...

Shelle I didn't think about the trust in sharing but was thinking of the trust in am I hiding something with a seperate account. Good point.

Despite our separate accounts it is still shared if need be.
I don't see it as a marriage "requirement" in when I say I Do I have to share my accounts. We still get it with all marriage commitments.

I know it is to each his own just re-explaining my take on it

Anjeny said...

I agree with Joanna Cakes' comment about if one spouse has problems with spending money, then it's up to the other spouse to take jump in and take over that part.

We have three accounts also, actually, we have is joint, one for him and one for myself..we also have an business account, that's for any repairs needed for our house, or anything to do with spending on the house itself. The joint is for everything to do with the family, school, bills & so forth.

I like TQ's reasoning behind the joint account and Chief..I so dig your reasoning too. If marriage is joint, then for Pete's sake, why shouldn't the accounts be?

heelsnstocking said...

nope! we used to but we split up about 10 yrs ago for 6 months and afetr a day he closed my account card, changed the locks and took my car of me and it was him that was in the wrong!

never again and i save a secret fund saving to be free one dat

ALSO's Cakes, Pastries and More said...

Amen to Vodka Logic. We had our own accounts when we got married, then once we were married we opened a joint account for house bills and such, but we still maintain our own accounts.
Side note: I hope Adam's wife's Mother's Day and Anniversary aren't totally blown now that he talked ab them, lol.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest. I didn't read through all of the post. Sorry. Im still not feeling my best today but did want to add my two cents.

Until a year ago, my husband and I did not have a joint chequing account. There was no need for one. All of the bills came out of his account (I'm a stay at home mom) and the money fromt he government for our children (Child Tax Benefit, etc) went into my account.

The ONLY reason we decided to put my name on his account as well was because it was annoying to have to borrow his debit card to go shopping and then I'd forget to give it back to him. This way, we had our own cards.

However, after some problems with bills not being paid on time, I can now monitor them better. I have full access and can ask why a bill hasn't been paid on time. Or see exactly when the mortgage comes out.

Now, I'm not saying I don't trust my husband. I do, completely. I feel more comfortable knowing exactly when payments have come out of our account. I've been able to make weekly budgets knowing this and we've yet to go over the budget I've set for our family. Before this, it was never known how much money there was left over in our accounts because my husband just didn't look.

I did catch the part about "you pool your money (including debt)". I do NOT agree with this. If my husband screwed up before we even met, than HE can take care of it and it shouldn't affect me and the kids. Same if I had screwed up somewhere. Then it's my problem to deal with.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I prefer it separate for a few reasons. If things happen to go bad you are both vulnerable to ones stupid decisions. I married and we were both pig-headed about changing banks since we both liked ours. So we never have had a joint account.
I am also glad we didn't since things went sour and now I have a savings account to prepare for moving expenses....SAD.

I think a joint account should be used to pay bills from. This ensures everything is getting paid no matter what.

Anonymous said... joint account for us! BUT...that being said, I'm in charge of the money! LOL. Quite frankly, my other half says quite simply that he is TERRIBLE with $ and I'm the one that helped him organize and get out of debt (before we moved forward on our own journey). So, he has his, I have mine, we make almost the same, he gives me $ for half the bills and it's a happy arrangement for the both of us. :)

Elle said...

My boyfriend and I aren't married, so perhaps that could explain my view. We've been together almost 3 years, live together but don't intend to marry, ever, since we both just don't believe some religious ceremony will make our relationship any more meaningful :)

That said, we've always had our separate accounts, obviously, and when I moved in, the thought of changing that didn't even cross our minds. To me, putting everything together just seems so... unnatural. We both work. I make my money, he makes his. And, well, the house is his. He bought it before we met. So he pays his mortgage, but I give him some "rent" money. We agreed on the amount and both feel good about it. We pay for groceries erratically, that is, when I buy them, I pay, when he buys them, he pays. Sometimes he'll buy them and I'll give him a 20$ or something. Sometimes if he pays something I'll ask if he needs/wants me to help. But we don't count. So far, we don't feel like one of us pays more than the other, so it works, and it has the added advantage of being simple! We pay the bills 50/50, so if I pay one, he refunds me, and vice versa. My money's totally my own, so I buy whatever I want, whenever I want and he has no say.

I don't see how this could be seen as a lack of trust or as us just being roommates. Actually, the thought is absolutely foreign to me. Besides, he's not very good with paying things on time and I don't want that stress to be mine. As it is, if he doesn't pay his mortgage on time, it doesn't affect me.

We have complete trust in each other. I just like having my own things, my own money, my own life. Just because we're a couple and love each other doesn't mean I shouldn't retain some individuality. And if we were to break up? Things would be simple and clean.

Like I said, maybe I feel differently about this because we aren't married. But then again, we see our relationship as something as meaningful as a marriage. Maybe we've just been "single" too long before we got together?