Pros & Cons to Joint vs. Separate Bank Accounts


The decision to open a joint bank account with your significant other can be a tough one. While a joint bank account can help you tackle your problems together, it can also cause more problems or put a strain on your relationship. As such, before you open a joint bank account, it’s essential to do plenty of research to determine whether such an account is right for you.

To help you with your research, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons here for you that might help you make your decision.


Pros


A joint bank account undeniably has several benefits for both parties to take advantage of if you decide that it’s right for you. We’ve listed several of these crucial benefits below.


Easy Access for Both Parties


When a couple has a joint bank account, it provides the easiest access to funds between both parties in the relationship. This means that, when one spouse needs money to pay the bills or purchase something, they have access to those funds without having to ask the other for money.

The joint bank account also equalizes access to funds between both parties, meaning that if one party is out of work, they still have easy access to their stockpiled funds without having to ask the other member for cash.


Legal Ease


Joint bank accounts make legal proceedings between couples easy. For example, if two people in a relationship have a joint bank account, but one member of the relationship passes away, the other member will see benefits like:


  • Having access to money even through legal proceedings
  • Ownership of the money is less likely to be disputed by other parties
  • Not having to work through a will for access to their partner’s funds


Fewer Surprises


When you and your significant other are sharing a joint bank account, you both have eyes on your combined funds. This means that both of you are more likely to spot mistakes or problems with the account, and you’re also less likely to run into financial surprises. If your significant other starts withdrawing excessive amounts of money from the account or starts making unwise expenditures, you will know right away rather than having to find out later!


Cons


As easy as a joint bank account can make things between a couple, it can also cause problems in similar ways. It’s imperative to weigh out these cons against the pros above to see if they make sense for you and your significant other. We’ve listed several of the most prominent cons below.


Loss of Independence


When you’re operating only with a joint bank account, you might feel like you no longer have the autonomy to make your own informed purchases. Though most couples should talk with each other before making large purchases of any kind, if your significant other has contributed more money to the joint bank account, you might feel guilty or uncomfortable with using the account for your pleasure purchases.

An easy way to prevent this is only to put a portion of the money you make in your joint bank account – let’s say 50%, for example. This way, both parties still have funds on hand to make their own purchases, but they also contribute enough money to the joint account to pay for bills and other essential things.



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Uneven Use


When you don’t have your money in a joint bank account, it can be tough to keep tabs on the financial integrity of your partner, especially if they’ve had issues with money in the past. Past issues that can cause problems with your finances to include things like:
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Impulse spending
  • Untrustworthy friends or family

However, this same phenomenon can apply to joint bank accounts, too. If your spouse doesn’t feel any qualms about using the money in the joint bank account for themselves, they might spend their own money and yours, doing significant damage to your combined finances. If your spouse does not handle money well, giving them free access to yours and theirs might not be the best idea.


Different Starting Points


A joint bank account can cause problems when a couple starts from different financial worlds. Imagine one member who started with stable finances, for example, and had a good bit of savings built up.

Imagine, then, that the other member of the relationship entered the partnership with no savings and several loans to pay. The other member might end up needing to contribute their own hard-earned money to help pay for the responsibilities of the other member, which could breed resentment.


Ending Relationships


Unfortunately, some relationships inevitably need to end, even if we don’t want them to. When two people that were formerly in a relationship have a joint bank account, this can cause significant issues between them. If the couple breaks up on bad terms, they might disagree on how much money belongs to who from the joint bank account.

Even worse, when one member of a relationship feels slighted or angry at the other, they might take revenge by draining or using the money in the joint bank account, even if most of that money didn’t originally belong to them. This can ruin the finances of one or both members of the relationship if both parties aren’t willing to talk things out and distribute the money equally.

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