Joint Checking Accounts: Do Not Resist The Urge to Merge

Of all the adjustments required at the beginning of a marriage, how to handle joint checking accounts may be one of the most precarious. Some couples jump into marriage and finances smoothly, and others have a more difficult time navigating the merger. Should you merge all your assets and handle your finances jointly? Or is it better to keep established assets separate?

Why Consider Merging Assets

Holding accounts and assets jointly simplifies your finances. Both spouses access the available funds in joint checking accounts easily. Either one can look at the financial records and evaluate where the family finances stand, rather than each being unsure of the other’s financial status. This fosters transparency and trust in the marriage itself; the joining of assets is not just a practical move, but it represents a partnership and commitment to marriage and finances being successful.

Having only one set of accounts also reduces the paperwork required for keeping your finances in order. Instead of balancing your own individual accounts and spending separately, you consult on financial matters together, dividing the workload in a way that is best for the both of you.

You will not have constant debates over who pays for what, because all the spending will come from a joint checking account that belongs to both of you. This mindset shift will help you both to plan your spending with the good of the family in mind, rather than lean toward potentially self-motivating reasons.

What About Separate Accounts?

While maintaining separate accounts may allow extra freedom for each spouse, it makes it more difficult to work together as a team when it comes to marriage and finances. Of course, it’s not impossible for a couple with separate accounts to work together to set financial goals or save for a house or vacation. It is also not impossible for the couple to work together to meet financial obligations or pay emergency expenses.

But it does take some extra groundwork. Without careful planning up front, it becomes all too easy for arguments regarding who pays for what to become regular events. Those who do not want joint checking accounts because they think it will be easier only open themselves up to more difficulties later.

Couples who maintain separate accounts and successfully cooperate in financial matters frequently do not just hold separate accounts. In fact, many separate-account couples hold joint accounts as well. They each contribute an agreed-upon amount to the family accounts to use for family expenses and savings, retaining personal control over the remainder.

The Hidden Truth about Joint Accounts

It is possible for a couple to be happily married and maintain separate accounts. However, the reasons that prevent joint checking accounts from working smoothly can indicate other problems in the relationship or with the individuals involved. For example, if you are not comfortable with your spouse having access to your bank records, there may be some underlying trust or honesty issues involved that you need to work through.

These issues will not affect only your finances, they will affect the health of your marriage as a whole. Marriage and finances should not be separated. Whether you can comfortably combine your assets and finances gives you some important clues about your relationship. If separate accounts seem attractive to you, it is wise to step back and consider why.

Handling marriage and finances smoothly takes adjustment and work for any couple. You owe it to yourselves to get the best start possible. Talk about joint checking accounts, and work to create a life that will be full and rich for you and your new family.

Neil Davis is a tax consultant who works with many couples who share joint checking accounts, as well as other marriage and finances issues. In his spare time, Neil blogs for workingtaxcreditcalculator.co.uk a site which can help you stay up to date on how tax credit changes 2012 may effect you.

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