When you share your life with someone, you share a lot of responsibility – particularly when it comes to finances. Sharing your money with someone also takes a certain amount of trust. But whether you choose to collectively pool your money together or keep it separate, the choice is ultimately a personal decision that should be made after carefully considering the pros and cons of each option.
The Benefits of Joint Accounts
One of the biggest benefits of sharing a joint account with your significant other, is the ability to compile your money together and (ideally) acquire a larger balance. Two incomes are better than one, after all. So if either of you needs to pay bills, go shopping for groceries or take care of unexpected car repairs, you’ll most likely have a broader base to withdraw from.
The other benefit involves interest. This applies mostly to savings accounts. With two people contributing instead of one, you are more likely to build a higher balance, which will accrue more interest. If you share an interest-bearing account with your significant other, and you’re both responsible about making regular contributions, you could likely double your savings in a shorter amount of time than if you were contributing to it alone.
Lastly, sharing a joint account with your special someone can be a great exercise in sharing your assets equally, which is something every couple has to practice in one way or another. By sharing your money, you’re ultimately saying that there is no “my money” or “your money.” The funds that are acquired are to be used equally. However, this is often one of the hardest aspects of joint accounts. Many couples have a hard time letting go of the idea that their money is “theirs.” This is especially true of couples in which one partner makes more than the other, which brings us to the biggest drawback of joint accounts – the temptation to control the funds.
Drawbacks of Joint Accounts
Unequal spending or saving habits can cause a lot of friction among couples who share a joint account. It can be very tempting to try to control the money when you don’t feel like you can trust the other person to handle the finances responsibly. As already mentioned, sharing a joint account requires a lot of trust in your partner.
On the other hand, even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing an account, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you do not trust your partner. It may be that it’s simply better for both of you to handle your own money individually – not because there is mistrust, but because you’re both aware of your own spending and saving habits and you feel that it may just be easier for you to manage your money if you keep things separate. Again, it’s a very personal choice, and what may work for one couple won’t work for every couple.
The other drawback to joint accounts is the joint risk that’s involved. If your account gets hacked or your credit card gets stolen, you may find that you’ve been wiped out and there’s no other “back-up” account to draw from. If you keep separate accounts, or at least one separate account for emergencies/savings, you will at least have some cash to live on in the event of a financial emergency.
What it all boils down to, is what works for you and your partner. Whether you keep things separate, share it all or do something in between, as long as you are considerate of your partner’s needs, it’s hard to go wrong. And, by the way, if your partner shies away from the idea of a joint account, don’t take it personally. Some people feel offended or mistrusted when their partner does not agree to sharing an account. While this is understandable to a degree, you should remember that just because you keep separate accounts doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner won’t contribute to your shared expenses. Mutual understanding of the financial responsibilities you have as a couple is the real key.
There are a lot of cliche sayings about money. It doesn’t buy happiness…it is the root of all evil…(so on and so forth), but the truth is, if money’s handled fairly and responsibly, it can help you and your significant other maintain a favorable lifestyle and build for your future as a couple. The best thing to do is talk it out with your partner and agree on an arrangement that works well for both people involved.