Does "I Do" Mean Joint Accounts?


If you are planning to take a good look at your finances and make savings goals for the New Year, you are not alone. This is a great time to make goals for savings, investment and money management in general. As I reviewed my family’s financial plan and discussed our savings goals with my spouse, it made me curious how other military families handled their finances.


My husband and I married in 2008 and we combined all of our finances. We merged savings accounts and opened one shared checking account. We lived apart the first year of our marriage and having one place for our paychecks to deposit made managing our money and paying bills easier. When he deployed in 2013, I took over the main roll of managing our accounts and bills and continued to do so when he returned. I assumed this was how most married military couples handled things (joint accounts), but after a poll of some Navy spouses, I realized there are so many ways couples successful manage their household finances.


Kendra:  ‘We have a joint, but also each have a separate… savings. We use joint for bills, then we are allotted "spending or spare money for our own accounts. Bills are paid out of the total pot, not necessarily paid by one or the other. I (the wife) do all the finances, as my husband doesn’t have any desire to deal with them.’


Skya: Our arrangement is similar, we have joint accounts and separate, agreeing on a percentage of our income that we each contribute (we've upped that amount recently with him retiring and losing income, and mine being higher than his is about to be so we have enough to live on), and maintain separate accounts for expenses like our respective cars and other discretionary expenses. In the early years of our marriage when he was deployed a lot of the time, I paid all the bills and kept an eye on the accounts, but "management" really isn't my forte, conservative spending is. However, he's been around more in the last few years and has been becoming more aware of income for retirement, so he's been tracking our monthly spending more.


Jodi: We have joint accounts for checking and savings. We find joint accounts easier to manage our money. I take care of all the finances in the household. We each have a budget of how much we can spend and I check the account activity usually every 2 days to make sure we are on track. We have specifically been working on building our credit and saving money to buy a house. So we use credit cards for everything and I pay in full each month.


Erika: We have both personal and joint bank accounts. A joint for the bills and kids, and then a personal for my own purchases. Our paychecks are deposited into our separate bank accounts. Then we put a set amount into the joint based on our estimated purchases for the kids and the bills we have for that month. Whatever is left over stays in our personal accounts


Lis: We have a joint checking account that our pay goes into and bills get paid out of. Then we each have a separate account that we put an "allowance" into each paycheck that we use for incidentals, out-of-home meals, and personal expenses. We also put a set amount plus anything left over into a joint savings account.


Rebecca: We have a joint account, and we have two checking accounts, one where bills come out of, and one for groceries/misc. We add up the total cost of bills, and take half of that each paycheck to put away in the bill account. It makes the first of the month much less stressful because that's when the biggest chunk gets taken out, and we never have to worry about not having enough money.


Karen: Joint account for household spending, bills, and kids. Separate account for personal spending. Since we didn't make the same amount of money, we set a percentage of our paycheck to go into our joint account. Since I stopped working and became a stay at home mom, he contributes to the joint account- in addition to our income from rental property. That way, we can spend for our own needs without questions.


Alisa: We have joint accounts and separate accounts. Both our paychecks go into a "community" account and that is where all the bills are paid from. Then some of the "leftover" money goes into a joint savings and then we each get an "allowance" into our personal accounts. I 100% handle all the finances. I find it is easier this way since all of our bills are shared bills that we both feel like we are contributing and we get equal "allowances" which allows us to save up for things that we want individually. Neither one of us has to ask the other one for money- It makes it feel like more of a partnership. No one feels like the other one is in control of what the other one can/cannot buy.


Sapphire: We have separate accounts, but with the same bank. I have access to his, and he as has access to mine and I can transfer from his account to mine whenever I need anything, we need to still set it up for him to transfer from mine to his. I like it separate because if something were to happen to his account or to him I would still be able to have access to funds to pay for things, by having my own account. Although we have separate accounts, we share the budgeting, and go over things with each other before buying "wants".


Kara: We have a joint account and I take care of most of the bills (makes it easier when he deploys). We have 2 savings accounts (1 for Christmas and 1 for incidentals).


Andrea: Joint everything. Both of us came from family backgrounds of "what's mine is yours" once you get married, and we both feel the same way too. We didn't really consider doing anything different. I do a majority of the finances because I'm always on the computer & know all the passwords.


I hope these testimonies help validate the way your family manages accounts or gave you a few ideas how you could change if your current set up is not working as well as you hoped!


How does your family manage your finances? Please share in the comments!


About the Blogger: Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (3 years and 6 months), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.


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