1 account for the both of you? Or separate accounts? Or a combo?

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The pros and cons of a single joint account

A joint account is sometimes referred to as a "true love" account. It doesn't matter if one partner earns or spends more or less, because all the money goes into and leaves the same account.

  • Benefits
    • Simpler financial management: by keeping all your income and expenses in one place, it is clearer and simpler to track your finances. There are two pairs of eyes for the account and all you need is one bank card each. A joint bank account can also be useful if one partner is out of work for a while.
    • Simpler financial management: by keeping all your income and expenses in one place, it is clearer and simpler to track your finances. There are two pairs of eyes for the account and all you need is one bank card each. A joint bank account can also be useful if one partner is out of work for a while.
    • Financial transparency: you learn about each other’s financial habits. Neither person has to guess what the other is spending money on, and this can help with budgeting (or making changes).
    • Shared responsibility for financial targets: one account means you are both aware of your financial situation. It encourages you to work together on your financial goals, which can lead to a stronger bond.
  • Disadvantages
    • Less privacy: with a joint account, no one can "cover up" anything, as you can both see each other’s income and expenditure.
    • It may lead to more disagreements on spending: you may have different spending and savings habits, which could result in conflict that would otherwise be avoided by having separate accounts.
    • Imbalance: if one of you earns more, has more debt, etc., this can cause friction both for the one who earns more and for the one who earns less.[1]
    • Splitting up: it may make it more complicated to divide up what you own if the relationship ends in a breakup (unless you are married under the community of property regime, in which case the principle is half each).

For what type of couples would a joint account work well?

In general, this setup is best suited for couples who have a strong basis of trust, open communication and shared financial values. It is ideal for couples who enjoy working together on their financial goals and responsibilities, and have no problem giving up a degree of financial privacy and independence. Joint accounts may be suitable for couples in a stable, long-term relationship who are also willing to work around financial differences.

Pros and cons of separate accounts

In this case, each partner is responsible for their own expenses and manages their own savings (and investments). This approach promotes financial independence and gives each person more control.

  • Benefits
    • Financial independence: with separate accounts, each of you maintains a sense of autonomy and control over your own finances, without being accountable to the other.
    • Privacy: with separate accounts, each of you can decide what to do with your own money without the other person looking over your shoulder.
    • Flexibility: each of you can save, invest and spend separately, following your own goals and plans.
    • Less risk of arguments about spending: as each of you manages your own account(s), there is less chance of disagreement about spending and financial management.
  • Disadvantages
    • Harder to achieve common financial goals: separate accounts can make it more difficult to work together towards common financial goals.
    • Less transparency: keeping your finances separate can make it harder to see the full picture of your shared financial situation.
    • Less convenient for common expenditure: managing and paying for joint expenses can be more complicated if there is no joint account.

For what type of couples would separate accounts work well?

In general, separate accounts are more suitable for couples who attach great importance to financial independence and privacy. Opting for a separate account is not necessarily a sign of distrust, but a way of expressing respect for each other’s independence. Couples with very different incomes, spending or savings habits or who are still at an early stage of their relationship can also benefit from keeping their own separate accounts. This also applies to couples who have previously had a negative experience with pooled finances, or who are forming a composite household and want some financial independence.

Useful to know: if you are legally married, the income you both receive during the marriage will generally be treated as jointly owned. Even if you have separate accounts and your income is paid into an individual account in your name, it still forms part of the joint fund. If you are married under the separation of property model (or are in a legal or de facto cohabitation), each partner retains their income in an individual account for themselves. Who "owns" the money is therefore determined by the matrimonial property model.

Pros and cons of multiple accounts (joint AND separate accounts)

This approach means you are combining the best of both worlds: a joint account for shared expenses, and a separate account each for personal use.

  • Benefits
    • Both shared responsibility and independence: a joint account for common expenditure ensures transparency and shared responsibility, while separate accounts guarantee financial autonomy.
    • Flexibility: each person can pursue their personal financial goals while working together towards shared goals.
    • Efficient management: a joint account makes it easier to manage and pay for common expenses.
    • Reduced risk of conflict: a combination of shared and individual accounts can reduce the risk of disagreement on spending, as both partners have control over their own finances while being jointly responsible for the shared costs.
  • Disadvantages
    • More administrative effort: managing multiple accounts can lead to more administration and complexity.
    • Possible differences of opinion about which spending should be paid from which account: clear agreements are needed on which costs are paid from the joint account and which from the personal accounts.

For which type of couples would a joint and separate account work well?

This setup is suitable for couples who want a balance between shared responsibility and individual financial independence. It is a good option for couples with different incomes, spending or savings habits, and who want to pursue common goals but without giving up their personal financial freedom. This approach can also work for couples with a composite household, or for couples who want to move their relationship to a higher level of financial cooperation without giving up their individual financial space.

What should you consider?

Each approach has its pros and cons. There’s no magic one-size-fits-all formula. The most important thing is that both partners feel the setup is fair and comfortable for them, and that both partners have an overview of the common finances if there is a joint account. There are a few factors you could weigh up to get a better idea of the option that works best for you:

  • Communication: how open are you (or do you want to be) about money matters with each other?
  • Trust: how much do you trust each other when it comes to finances?
  • Financial targets: what are your current shared and personal financial targets?
  • Income and expenses: how different are your incomes and expenses?
  • Debts: does one of you have debts, and how do you want to manage them?

Can you open a “secret account”?

There may be several reasons for having an account that the other person doesn't know about. "A rainy day fund", for example, or to pay for certain expenses that would drive the other person up the wall. Each of you has the right to open your own account and manage the money on it yourself. Whether you tell them about it or not is your decision.

This article does not contain any investment advice or recommendation, nor a financial analysis. Nothing in this article may be construed as information with a contractual value of any sort whatsoever. This article is intended for information only and does not constitute in any way a commercialization of financial products. Keytrade Bank cannot be held liable for any decision made based on the information contained in this article, nor for its use by third parties. Every investment entails risks such as a possible loss of capital. Before investing in financial instruments, please inform yourself properly and read carefully the document "Overview of the principal characteristics and risks of financial instruments" that you can find in the Document centre.

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