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Should You Have Joint or Separate Accounts?

Pros Cons

Joint

When you take the “what’s mine is yours” approach to money, it makes things simple. You have one account and one statement so there’s less paperwork. Plus, you feel like you’re a team. Do you make a bigger salary than your spouse, or vice versa? The person bringing home more dough may resent that their partner is pulling more out of the pot than they’re putting in. Plus, there’s no privacy. Those new shoes or set of golf clubs are open season for a “how could you spend that!?” debate.

Separate

Your philosophy is straightforward: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.” You’re free to spend as you please from your own accounts without having to explain it to your spouse. Since you both handle your own finances, there’s little communication. Sussing out joint expenses can be a hassle because you always have to split down the middle, from meals to mortgages. Plus, there’s double the paperwork with two separate accounts.

Mixed

Having a hybrid of joint and separate accounts can be the best of both worlds: You’re merged for major shared expenses but have the independence to spend your “fun money” as you please. You have more to discuss up front, like what qualifies as “mine,” “yours,” or “ours.” The dry-cleaning bill may come out of your shared account, but does the dog walker’s come out of yours? Will you pool your “fun money” for a vacation? And instead of one or two accounts, there are three to keep track of.

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