Pros and Cons of a Joint Checking Account

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Just because you're getting married doesn't mean that you have to open a joint account and pool all of your money together. This type of account may work for some couples and it may not work for others. Especially since money is one of the biggest stressors in a marriage, it's important for you and your spouse to have a serious discussion about the best way to manage your finances together. If you're trying to determine whether or not a joint account is right for you, here are a few pros and cons to opening one.

Pros: Cons:
Having a joint account for all of your money can make a lot of things easier: paying bills out of the same account, writing checks, depositing money, etc. Both of your names are on the account and you both have complete access. This is the easiest solution to handling joint expenses, like rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, and dinners out. With a joint account, there is no privacy--all purchases are out in the open for both to see. This can mean no surprise purchases for a birthday or anniversary. It can also mean that if one of you makes a large purchase without telling the other, cards can unexpectedly decline, causing a frustrating and embarrassing situation. Even if this was done unintentionally and without ill will, it can cause spats between the two of you.
Many couples find this type of account works well for them because everything is merged together in one pot. There's no squabble about who has more money because all of your money is put together. Many couples also believe that this helps create a more cohesive bond in their relationship it's "our money" and not simply "my money." A joint checking account means that you need to be open about purchases and expenses, and discuss them often. You also both need to have similar financial goals and spending habits. If one of you spends more than the other, someone could feel resentful and like their money is being spent. You and your spouse may also feel like you can't spend any money without checking with the other person first to avoid any fights, an annoying task.
This type of account is great for couples who openly talk about income, expenses, purchases, and financial goals. Joint checking accounts do work for some couples, but it's not always the right answer. Another solution is to open a joint checking account specifically for joint expenses, like rent/mortgage, but to also have your own separate accounts for your own purchases. This can help you make some financial decisions together, but to also feel like your own person.