A few nights ago a friend called me up in arms over the family bank account she has with her husband. She complained that her husband wasn’t putting in what he was taking out and she wanted a separate account. In discussing this with him, he basically balked at her and dismissed the idea of having separate accounts because of the bills they paid together.

I have married friends who have varying ways of banking and paying the household bills. Some choose to have one joint account, and then divvy the money for bills out at the end of the month. I also know couples that keep separate and divide the bills. Then there’s the anomaly couple, that I don’t come across too often. He pays all of the bills, and the wife keeps her own bank account. With each of these examples, I’m sure everyone has their own reasons why they’ve made their banking decisions.

According to Suze Orman, she believes couples should definitely keep their finances separate. Using her current relationship as an example, “K.T. and I have been together for quite a while now, we don’t have one joint account. Does it keep us from loving each other totally? No. Would it keep us from stepping in and helping each it other? No.. Splitting bills down the middle is unfair to the lower earner”, says Orman. Orman advocates that each person should set aside the same percentage of their individual incomes towards the common bills, and keep financial accounts separate.

Once upon a time, when I was engaged, we both discussed the joint bank account issue and who’d be responsible for the bills. Interestingly enough, we decided on something similar to Suze Orman’s idea. Since he was earning more at the time, he would set aside a larger percentage towards the bills, but we would still keep our own separate accounts.

Couples, before getting married or cohabitating, should probably should decide beforehand what works best for them, no one wants to be put in a situation and caught off guard when the subject of bills and banking comes up after the fact.

What’s your opinion on joint bank accounts and household bills?

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