One of the first things any committed partners need to discuss is how to handle the joint finances. When you move in with someone or marry someone, it is impossible to think that you will be keeping your finances totally separate, especially when so much of your financial lives will be tied up together. Of course, you'll be paying bills together and planning vacations together, etc. Also, if a mortgage is in both of your names or if unexpected needs like medical bills or a new appliance comes up, it's safe to assume you'll probably be sharing those expenses.
However, with more women continuing to work outside the home after marriage and earning their own benefits and assets, sometimes it is difficult to think of sharing that with another person, especially with divorce rates on the rise as well. Having a joint bank account isn't for everyone, but some careful consideration and a discussion with your partner will help you figure out the option that's right for you.
The Pros of a Joint Account
Having joint bank accounts can be a wonderful thing. With all of your money in one place, it can be easier to track spending, pay bills, and save money for your future. Instead of having separate accounts from which you both spend what you want and don't track it jointly, you have one account that every paycheck goes into and every purchase comes out of. With a joint credit card, you can also earn more rebate points together than separate, not to mention that building a good credit rating together is easier than doing it alone.
Equally important is the fact that if one person has a bad credit rating, then financially attaching that person to the one with a better credit rating can improve interest rates and save your money over the long term. With a joint account, though, it is best to have one person in charge of the money and finances in the household. That person should be in control of the budget, paying the bills, tracking receipts, and be able to check online banking accounts regularly to be sure spending is not getting out of hand.
The Cons of a Joint Account
With divorce rates on the rise, it can be daunting to share a financial future with someone. Having no financial accounts in your name can hurt your credit rating in the event of a divorce or terrible loss. Also, when sharing all the bills and all the money, as well as sharing retirement accounts, you have to completely trust the person you're with to do the right things with your money, which can be equally frightening.
If you're a person that has issues trusting someone else with your money, a joint account might not be right for you. This doesn't speak badly about your relationship. Rather, it speaks volumes about your independence and ability to handle your own money. If you decide not to have a joint account, however, this might create more work for you and make you less able to track your joint spending.
Ways to Meet in the Middle
Just because you're in a committed relationship doesn't mean you have to share all of your finances, though you might find it beneficial to share some of them. It's possible to keep separate checking and credit card accounts while also having joint checking, savings, and credit card accounts. Each of you can have your own spending money to do whatever you want with, and you both can keep a credit card to help keep up your individual credit rating. Then, the joint account can be used just for shared bills and expenses.
No matter what you decide is right for you, make sure you have this conversation with your partner early! Sharing finances is a very important part of a relationship.