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Separate vs. Joint Checking Accounts with your Spouse

Updated on October 30, 2012

The Trust Issue

The honeymoon is over and reality is beginning to set in. Sure, you still wake up in the mornings basking in the glow of the night before, excited to share breakfast in bed and discuss your plans for the day with your new spouse. You still look at the ring on your finger with amazement that you're actually married. But some of the details of what it means to join your life with another person's are starting to creep in with their tiny little shadows and you're trying to figure out how to deal with that reality while still maintaining the great relationship that you've got going for you. The big issue? Money.

Money is a complicated thing which presents itself as a problem in most relationships at one time or another. It does so in many forms, but one of the most detrimental is that it can become an issue which is linked with trust. Such is the case for most couples who are beginning to argue about whether they should maintain their separate checking accounts or combine them into a single joint checking account. On the one hand, you want to trust that your spouse will spend money wisely and consult you about major purchases while not getting nit-picky about your expenditures from the account. On the other hand, even with the honeymoon glow still in place, you know that there may come a time when you wished that you weren't so trusting with your money.

But is a checking account really an issue of trust? We like to make it one. We feel hurt when our spouse wants a separate checking account, because it feels like he or she doesn't trust us. And if our spouse wants their own individual account that we don't have access to, we can't help but wonder what he or she is doing with that money that we aren't supposed to know about. But the fact is that most individuals who want to maintain separate checking accounts don't have such trust concerns or material motives. Instead, they've just gotten used to having their own independence with money and they may not be adjusted to the idea that they have to give that up.

One of the most common methods of resolving this issue, particularly in a two-income home, is to maintain both individual and joint checking accounts. Each spouse agrees to put a certain amount of money into the joint account which will be used to make joint expenditures for the family or home. This says both, "I trust you to spend our shared money wisely" and "I trust you to have your own money". If this is a practical solution for your financial situation, you should consider it.

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