Spring time is the season of love! Your significant other spent countless days searching jewelry stores for the perfect ring to put on your finger and planned the most special way to pop the question. Immediately you start thinking about the “important stuff” like-
When will you tie the knot?
Who will you invite?
What kind of flowers?
To have a sword ceremony or no military theme at all?
But there’s an even more important question that needs to be discussed that will have a huge impact on your relationship. Should you marry your separate bank accounts?
Why Talk About Money Before Marriage?
Because money is in the top 3 reasons for causes of divorce, that’s why. Could it be as simple as there is a disagreement about getting a joint account or not? It’s possible. But if you don’t start talking about money from the beginning, what makes you think you can start talking about financial issues 5 years down the road when kids and PCSing make things that much more complicated?
Don’t assume your partner is on the same page as you when it comes to combining bank accounts. You might want to combine accounts while she doesn’t want you to come near their account. This is where the money conversation has to happen.
The Upside to Combining Your Finances
Money is Intimate
I don’t mean intimate like “sexy” but intimate but more like “bringing you closer together.” If you can talk about money, you can talk about anything! You are married and beginning a journey together why not fund that journey with a “married” bank account?
A Joint Account Might Simplify Your Finances
With bank accounts there is always something going in and things going out. It is so much easier to keep track of only 1 checkbook vs. 2 or 3. You are much less likely to forget to write something down, leading to other balancing issues.
It’s “Our” Money
When we talk about things, we say “ours,” or “mine,” and “yours” without even giving it a second thought. When you have a joint account you are more likely to refer to the funds in the account as “our” money. This can enhance the feeling that both people are contributing equally to reaching your family goals together.
If one partner has a habit of swiping that plastic card before thinking, having a joint account can help break that habit. It can be hard to face that fact that the one you love, or even you, has a bad spending habit, but with love and support, bad habits can be improved.
We all know that deployments or temporary duty assignments happen. When spouses are joint on account, it is easier to manage anything financial with the account. Granted a Power of Attorney could help with that, but there are still limitations when you use a POA.
The Downside to Combining Your Finances
This is a pro and con really. If you want to surprise your sweetheart with a gift then it is much easier to do when you have your own bank account. However, if you are sneaking around doing some spending for whatever reason, then you are traveling down a dark path. Secrets with money can only lead to other secrets that can damage a relationship.
Honey, What Happened To The Money?
This is the big one. How well do you really know your spouse? We have all heard stories of a spouse emptying the bank account while the other was deployed…well I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to remember while working at a credit union on base. The most important thing to remember is that when you add someone as a joint to your bank account, that person has equal rights and equal access to the money.
- If said evil spouse decides to close the joint account and take all the money, they can.
- If the spouse has a bad spending habit and constantly has the account in the red, you cannot just call to have the card shut off.
If you decide you want to remove your spouse from the account, they have to sign a document giving up their access to the account.
It is very important that you know your bank’s specific rules about joint accounts and the rules for adding and removing someone. There are many marital benefits from having a joint bank account, but trusting the wrong person to be on your bank account could be catastrophic.
Do you have a joint account or separate accounts and why?