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When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

Valued Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

@Annipoo wrote:

I am not married but have lived with my bf for over 9 years now. I handle all of our finances, though they are kept separate. We split the bills. He gives me his share of the bill money at the beginning of the month. The rest is his to do whatever he does with it. Same with my money. I'm a saver. He is a spender. I like it separated, that way I never have to get mad at him for spending "my" money on something I consider frivolous. He is AU on most of my cards and I am on his one major card. All of his spending goes on my cards (I have to routinely tell him which card to use for the best rewards) and he gives me the cash for whatever he has spent. It has worked well for us. We never fight about money.


I didn't think that this is odd, but he tells me that most couples do not work like this. Occasionally when money discussions have come up with friends, they are shocked to find out that we keep everything separate. I love it separated. I don't feel like he needs to pay for my student loans and I don't want to pay his child support. Only joint expenses are split 50/50.


ETA: At one time we had a joint checking. His check was deposited there and I transferred money to my checking for bills. After a while I decided it was a pain to have accounts that we didn't need so we closed the joint checking. Now he just gives me cash and I deposit it to my checking and pay the bills.

Aside from AU, this is a similar approach to what we take, but instead of giving money to my partner, we just split the actual expenses. I pay the mortgage and cable bill, she pays the HOA fee and electric bill. We take turns paying other expenses (I bought the groceries, she bought dinner at the restaurant; I got the movie tickets so she gets the popcorn, etc). This also means nothing is in both of our names. The house is in her name, one car is in my name and one is in hers, etc. The ONLY thing that may be joint soon is auto insurance, because it would be about $800/year cheaper to have one insurance policy for both cars.


Just like you (and why I started this thread to begin with), our friends find this approach mind blowing. Good to know we're not completely alone, but it does look from the responses so far we're definitely in the minority.

Message 11 of 21
Established Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

I have lived with my GF for several years, and we never had any joint accounts (for obvious reasons).  She just pays me cash for "rent" as her share of bills.


Now that we are engaged, things have changed.  I took an unused checking account I had at a credit union (opened because I needed an account there to get a mortgage) and added her name to it.  We both put an agreed upon amount in this account each month as savings towards the wedding.  After the wedding, we will continue to fund it to pay monthly household expenses.  We will continue have our own separate accounts for the rest of our money.


She wants to add her name to the mortgage after we're married, but I don't think its a good idea because the house is underwater and IF the unthinkable happens and I can't keep the payments up, I don't want her tied to it.  I'm not beholden to it because of the BK7  5 years ago, so her credit would protected to make sure we qualify for decent living quarters somewhere.  Smiley Happy


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Message 12 of 21
Valued Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

DW and I have had joint accounts since we began living together.  


Marriage, 2 kids and a SAHM it works prefect for us.  If we were both working maybe some separate accounts would work, with just one of us working that would be much too difficult.  Then it becomes, what, an allowance?  Nah.  


When we got married we were broke and had pretty poor credit.  Had to pay a higher security deposit to get into our first apartment together.  Now I have a succesful business, own our home and have pretty good credit.  Truthfully, her managing the joint accounts is why we have the credit and the home.  If it were me things would get overlooked VERY often.




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Message 13 of 21
Frequent Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

I have done it both ways.  Having a joint account can help with accountability.  You can see where money is going in and out from and discuss it when it comes time to pay the bills and there isn't anything left.  If you have separate accounts you get more privacy, but when it comes time for the other to put their half in for the bills and they don't have it, you can't see why they don't have it, you just have to take their word for it.


I would say the best time to decide is when you have had time to learn their spending and saving habits.  Personally I like having a main joint account for everything and a personal account (with no prying eyes) for my play account (she gets one as well).  We don't see what each other does with that money and we don't rely on it for anything.  It's considered spent once it is deposited.

Message 14 of 21
Regular Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

We have two joint accounts, one checking and one credit card. We each contribute $1000/paycheck into the joint checking, and the rest of our money is left for our own uses. We use the joint credit card for as many joint expenses as we can, and use the checking account to pay it and our other monthly bills.


We've only been married for 6 months, so I don't know if we'll keep this exact strategy moving forward, but it's worked well so far.

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Message 15 of 21
Regular Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

For now my wife and I have our own checcking/savings accounts as well as credit cards. I put her as AU on few of my cards a while back just in case she had an emergency, as my limits were much higher. We got married a couple months ago but been living for the past 4 years together. It is becoming annoying her giving me money every month and me counting up each month what she owns me. For now she pays rent, utilities, bills, one month and I pay it all next month. We are thinking about adding her to my checking account and moving her direct deposit to my checking so we can have it all in one place. 


Like someone said before, it is good to learn your partners spending habbits, you need to trust each other. I can not see myself living with someone or marrying someone who I do not trust. In my case she is even more careful with her money than I am with mine so it works our pretty good. I never have to worry about her spending a lot and if we need to  purchase things, we always talk about them. Different things work for different people as long as what you do works for you, keep doing it. 

Message 16 of 21
Senior Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

@iced wrote:

My wife and I have no joint accounts. I'm not an AU on any of her cards; she's not an AU on any of mine. We don't share any checking or savings accounts. So far, it's worked very well, but we also seem to be unique among our friends and family.


I'm curious to know how unusual our situation acctually is. How many married couples out there keep their finances completely separate?

We have a joint checking account which we both fund. All household expenses (including mortgage payments) are paid out of the joint checking account. It works very well for us. We also have a household credit card which I am AU on but I never use it.


Handling shared expenses out of a joint account is less complicated for us and that way no one is "in control". Balancing expenses to funding is easy and transparent..


All savings and retirement accounts are separate. We also have our own personal checking accounts and credit cards.

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Message 17 of 21
Established Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

I will not comingle my checking or savings account with my fiance. My ex husband screwed me over money wise and I just can't go through that again. I am an AU on my fiance's Discover and Chase card, and he is on my Target and Amex. For some reason I am a bit more lenient with that than an actual checking/savings account. I guess it's because I worked a long and hard road to get to where I am currently. 

Message 18 of 21
New Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

I see very minor advantages from opening a NEW joint credit card, and there are several negatives.


Checking accounts are different, there are 5 types of joint checking accounts that I am aware of, they mostly have to do with how are assets distributed after death and how a creditor might be able to collect against the account.


That said, I have a mix of joint accounts individual accounts, both checking and credit card, with my wife and my mother.


BTW, I manage all the money for my wife and my mother, but my wife has all the passwords including my email and uses MINT, so she is aware of where money is flowing.


One advantage to joint is that it is easy for me to contact the bank and get information, if I am not joint or an AU, then I can usually operate from online, but if I have to call the bank I would need the owner to get on the phone to authorize the bank to talk to me. This is for either checking or a credit card.


Moving cash in and out from someone else's checking account can be a problem. You can use an ATM for getting cash, but you do have to go in person and the amount is limited, depositing cash can be even trickier, for instance, I cannot deposit cash into my brothers account. I think it's mostly to prevent money laundering and terrorism, though I can use email to deposit money, it's mostly one needs to create a paper / electronic trail so if needed money can be traced back. Cash is hard to trace.


I benefited greatly when I became a joint owner of two of my mother's very old credit cards, this happened over 10 years ago, I don't think this type of joint ownership could be done today. Because it gave me a good AAoA and unearned credit history, though I never actually knew I was a joint owner until 2 years ago. I don't have a clear idea of how I became a joint owner.


Now, it likely doesn't matter as much as I have a substantial credit history.


You can make someone an AU on your card if they have a hard time getting their own card, that is assuming you trust them. BUT IMO this doesn't do much for establishing their credit history.


I don't see much of an advantage from being a AU outside of having my a card and her having a card that is used for rewards. But if we both sign up for the same individual card, we can both double the cash or miles sign-up bonus. Like if we both sign up for Chase CSP card, we can both get the $450 each or a total of $900 sign-up bonus. Same for other signup bonuses.


I did start a new joint auto loan with my wife, our thinking was this helps establish her credit history.


I don't think there is a one size fits all answer to this type of question.

Message 19 of 21
New Contributor

Re: When (if ever) to have joint accounts?

My wife has very limited access to my money.


I am a co-account holder for her main account, but I don't use it because she habitually keeps less than $50 in it.  She is, sad to say, a spender and cannot control herself with money.


She has an Amex card that is linked to mine, but hers has a low monthly limit and I will not raise it.  Anytime in the past she has had credit cards she always maxes them out, despite me paying them off for her (twice).  The card is for emergencies, but she usually puts some money on it every month.


Her most recent travesty was a BK that she had to go through after I refused to pay them off again.  Thankfully I was not involved in the BK and none of our joint assetts (house, car) were involved either.  I'm hoping the BK will prevent her from gettting any cards in the future.


I pay 100% of the bills from my accounts.


Its mostly my fault for indulging her, but she really has no concept of money or credit.  To her, an available credit line is simply money waiting to be spent:  paying it back doesn't interest her.


God help her if something ever happened to me.




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Message 20 of 21