When two people are ready to merge their finances, it’s a serious endeavor. Give it the attention it needs, but don’t overdo it. A good place to start may be talking about checking accounts. Here is a place where you can be pretty creative to match the needs of your relationship.
Some couples have one family checkbook, others two and some even have his, hers and ours. What method works best for you?
Two checking accounts are usually useful for the busy couple who uses their debit cards freely. Keeping track of these items in the checkbook is easier if it’s only your own items – reducing the risk for bounced checks. Also, forewarned is forearmed, so know that banks won’t necessarily tell you when you are about to overdraw your account. If you are using that debit card and you spend more than is in your account it means overdraft fees and they can be substantial. If you’re both using the debit card freely and you like to keep your checking account to a minimum, two accounts may be the answer for you.
Additionally, many young couples, who have both worked, saved and been independent for a while might find that keeping your own checking account gives everyone their own sense of freedom and independence.
Any downside? Yes. First make sure that all of your accounts have NO fees. You can do it, just look around a bit to find that bank that works for you. Second, make sure that with two bank accounts you still ensure that all bills are paid in full on time. Find a strategy that works for you as a couple – who pays which bill. You may even set up a third checking account, into which you both deposit a specific amount of each paycheck to pay all the bills. Again, just make sure that one of you PAYS THE BILLS! Don’t let so many accounts get out of hand.
Can you do just one account? Sure, if you work together as a financial team – a Power Couple. The risk here is that only one of you will own the checkbook and only that person will know what’s going on with the family finances. This is not the place to split chores – both of you need to know about the family finances at all time – no surprises.
Read more about marriage and finances here.
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