Yesterday’s comment by Lulu got me thinking about my family’s choice to consolidate bank accounts. When I first got married my husband and I kept separate bank accounts. I was proud of the little brokerage account I first started in college, and even prouder of the $30,000 I had accumulated from summer jobs and year round internships. Shortly after we were married my husband raised the question of closing our individual accounts in order to open a joint one. I immediately said no. I was attached to my account. I knew the account number by heart. I had my own checkbook. I saw absolutely no reason for consolidation.
But as time progressed I changed my mind for a couple of simple reasons. First, over the years we have opened a number of other accounts, eleven to be exact. There is my Roth IRA, non-deductible IRA, mixed 401(k) – Roth & Traditional. Then there is my husband’s non-deductible IRA, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA & a mixed 401(k) – Roth & Traditional. It is often difficult to keep track of all of these accounts especially when attempting to balance our allocations. In an effort to make our lives just a little bit easier we ultimately decided to consolidate the only accounts we could: those for checking and saving.
The second reason for bank account consolidation: building a future. By keeping all of the money in one pot, each spouse knows exactly how much money is available. After all, although my husband and I make individual purchases the majority of our spending is for joint ventures, everything from home and car repairs to family vacations. A side benefit of a joint account: I am less likely to splurge on an item. This certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t buy things, just that I often think twice before making a purchase. I believe this alone helps our family save a good deal of money.
Third, as you may have read from my previous post I think a joint account makes spouses more accountable to one another and less likely to keep secrets. Although you may love and trust your spouse, as I do, it never hurts to ensure that they are not unknowingly spending money. How many times have you heard a wife say her husband was spending money on another woman? Why didn’t the wife know about this until after the fact. With a joint account, where paychecks are directly deposited and bills are paid online this simply cannot happen. Of course, having a joint account does not guarantee one spouse will not embezzle money from another. After all, if a husband or wife doesn’t keep tabs on the joint account it is no different than if the spouse banks independently. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe joint bank accounts have increased the strength and trust in my relationship with my husband.
Don’t get me wrong giving up my individual bank account wasn’t easy, but the end I believe it has strengthened my marriage and my portfolio.