to share or not to share a bank account

We are living in an age where it’s almost impossible not to have a bank account, at least one credit or debit card, and loans of all sorts. But banks are quite young institutions that have not been around at such a large scale before the discovery of electricity. Back in the day, the first banks used to keep track of all transactions manually, on paper. But nowadays, most tasks are performed in the invisible realm of servers and hard-disks.

With the power of electricity, banks have also received more power in the economy. And because most wages land in a bank account these days, whether to share bank accounts or not becomes a common issue, especially among newlyweds. So, should you share your bank account with your spouse? Let’s find out!

The benefits of having one bank account as a family

sharing a bank account

A family’s bank accounts seem to be loosely tied together, the higher we climb on the social ladder. Affluent couples might not fret over this issue, as many financial matters might have already been discussed in the prenuptial agreement. The three-year-old TD Bank Love & Money Survey points out that 24% of couples don’t share any bank account at all. Also, 36% of couples don’t share any credit card either. 

But if we were to take a random couple from the street, each one would probably have opposing views on the practice of banking together. By the time they got married, both have reached a certain degree of financial independence so they’ll try to preserve it as well as their money habits. Spenders will want to continue spending without reporting back. The frugal ones will want to reach their saving goals at all costs. So, there will constantly be two opposing forces. But not all couples are like this. 

The main benefits of sharing a bank account are rather psychological, impalpable, almost esoteric. “Sharing is caring” goes one very overused phrase since Facebook introduced its “Share” button. And indeed, sharing a bank account is a way of letting the other one know that you care about his/her wellbeing. So, by cumulating your income, you’re fighting together with everyday expenses. After all, two is better than one. And two in distress make sorrow less. 

In marriage, the merger of the two financial lives is the ultimate sign of devotion and unity. “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours,” – that’s how things should stay in a marriage founded on mutual love and respect. Nevertheless, not sharing your bank accounts is also a sign of trust. Deep down you both know that you’re a unity now, even though you still hold separate accounts for your convenience. 

Planning for the worst

When starting a family, it’s tough to imagine that one day, something or someone might change your relationship. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Well, it might sound unrealistic, but what if your spouse withdrew all the money and left you high and dry? There’s little that you can do to get it back. Or, what if the account became overdrawn? In that situation, you are also responsible for the cost incurred by this type of loan. Skip a few payments, and your credit score might drop considerably. So, if you planned to buy a house in the future, to protect your credit score, the real estate agents listed on would not encourage you to have a joint account. 

The decision of having a joint account should also take into consideration the debt acquired before and after marriage. Student loans, car loans, personal loans – all unsecured debt can turn into garnishments. Keep in mind the right of survivorship. If you or your spouse fail to make the payments, debt collectors can follow you instead, if your spouse dies. 

Stick to cash

two piggy banks instead of one

While the idea of replacing “mine” and “yours” with “ours” is quite tempting, a joint account is not mandatory, nor is it a must to save money in a savings account. Don’t lose contact with the real money – the printed paper that you can touch, fold, and smell. Don’t give up cash entirely just because it’s trendy or because you’re thrilled to use all the latest contactless technologies.

Not too long ago, scientists found that we are tempted to spend more when paying with a credit card than when we pay with paper money. That piece of plastic is just a fence that disconnects you from your money. Besides, don’t you find it harder to keep track of electronic money? Except for a few automatic payments for bills and a savings account, everything else should be paid for with hard cash. No matter how outdated this may sound, cash should remain king.