Over the weekend, R and I finally got down to business and opened a new bank account down here. As the title suggests, we decided to open a joint checking account, and then have two separate savings accounts.
I know this might seem a little odd, considering we aren’t married or even engaged. Even the bank associate seemed taken aback by our decision, asking me if my last name was correct, and then further asking if we’re married or soon to be married.
Please note that the below is me sharing my own personal thoughts and feelings on the matter. If you’ve been dating someone for one month, it’s probably not wise to open up a joint account with them!
Why marriage doesn’t matter for a joint bank account (for us)
I know there were some articles circulating about a month ago highlighting the pros and cons of having joint accounts when you’re married. I read through them, and both sides made sense to me, but I didn’t have much input as I had no prior experience with that.
For us, setting up a joint account was the logical decision as we have been splitting rent and groceries since last year. We now have some utility bills added into the mix, and we figured that this would lessen the headache of transferring money around.
Having been with R for two and a half years (living together for one of them), I know his financial habits, and there really aren’t that many. For the most part, he is frugal, and his focus is on saving money and making more money to pay off his student loans quicker. I’m on board with all of that.
We discuss big purchases and how they will impact our future. For the most part, we have been treating our individual funds as joint funds anyway. There were never any secrets; we’ve been transparent since about the first month of dating. We knew each other’s student loan balances, bank balances, salary, and monthly bills.
I know some couples don’t function this way, and that’s completely okay. Everyone does things differently, and I think they should, as long as it works for them.
Why marriage really doesn’t matter for joint bank accounts
Just the other day, R was telling me a story about one of his co-workers. She is our age, and is married with a kid. Her husband is really “stupid” (her words) with their money, and she even has a separate savings account that he doesn’t know about. Yikes!
He has apparently traded cars in left and right, and went so far as to trade both of their cars in for one single truck. I hope it was worth it! I don’t know any details about the story as R didn’t want to pry, but I really hope he at least mentioned his plans to her before going through with such a big decision.
When it comes down to it, communication is what matters, not necessarily the status of your relationship. R and I are really big on being open with each other, and we are pretty good at picking up on when the other is upset with something. I am grateful that R doesn’t shy away from problems like some other guys I’ve dated, otherwise we would likely never be on the same page.
Truthfully, it doesn’t matter that we aren’t married at this point. We are living together and sharing expenses, and it just makes sense to have a joint bank account in our situation.
My money is your money
I have to be honest with you all and admit that I had hesitations about this. They stemmed from selfishness. I started saving much earlier than R, and I had a better paying job before he did. Well, I actually started working before him, too, which helped give me a head start. I had much, much more money than he did.
I had to realize that this wasn’t about me. R just took a job promotion mostly to get me closer to my parents. He knew it was always my intention to move, and he agreed that it was a win-win due to the fact we would be saving money by living elsewhere. He never questioned it, and without him, we simply wouldn’t be here.
Even though he had no issues with moving, he could have told me that he didn’t want to sacrifice friendships for my sake. He could have said there were better opportunities for him elsewhere. But he shared in my vision, and helped make it a reality.
So who am I to be greedy and say “hands off!”? R has been working much harder than me. He’s put in more hours and more physical labor than I ever have. His expenses happened to be more than mine, but not enormously so. He was working toward the big picture – taking the job he did meant that moving was possible, and we both knew that from day one. It was a means to a few ends – getting a better job, management experience, and moving.
I also have no doubts that he will respect our funds. The only reason we have separate savings accounts right now is because we have different priorities. He is saving for a car purchase, and I am saving for a bunch of things (car repairs, cats, dental things, travel). Once our student loans are paid off, we’ll probably solidify things a bit more.
I know, I know. Some of you are still wondering what the heck we’re going to do if we ever break up. Besides the fact that engagements and marriages end, too, I’ll entertain that thought and leave you with this: if it does happen, I will not regret having a joint account.
I don’t think either of us are petty enough to seriously leave the other broke. It makes sense to share given our living situation, and I think we both have every right to the account right now. Neither of us would have been able to make it this far in our journey without the other, and I think I will be able to look back and appreciate all R has done.
If you have joint accounts, did you wait until marriage to combine? Do you think we’re being foolish?