Why Married Couples Should Have Joint Bank Accounts

5 Reasons to Pool Your Financial Resources

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At my former church, I had the opportunity to spend time with those in our premarital class and discuss the issue of money. One of the very first pieces of advice I gave was to, once married, get joint bank accounts and avoid bank accounts to which your spouse will not be able to access. Why? Because you do not get choose what part of your spouse you want to marry or what part you want to give to your spouse. It’s an all-in deal—You get all of them, and they get all of you.

Including your bank account.

Having joint bank accounts communicates something to your spouse about the marriage. Here are five messages joint bank accounts send to your spouse:

  1. Joint accounts communicates “our money.” In a marriage, the statement “Well, it’s my money so….” is a lie and is divisive. Joint accounts tell your spouse the money you or your spouse makes is just as much theirs as it is yours. It does not matter who makes more or less money for the family. It is both the husband’s and the wife’s money—every single penny.
  1. Join accounts communicate “our expenditures.” Whether hidden or in plain sight, your purchases affect your spouse. If you have poor purchase habits, your spouse feels the fallout. Married couples do not make financial decisions in a vacuum. Joint accounts encourage input from both spouses in determining expenditures. And getting on the same financial page can significantly reduce arguments over money.
  1. Joint accounts communicate transparency. When you have joint accounts, there is no hiding your purchases. It tells your spouse you want them to be aware of your purchases—that there is nothing you are hiding from them. No purchase or movement of money is done in secret.
  1. Joint accounts communicate trust. Accounts to which both husband and wife have access demonstrates a belief that the spouse will handle money in an agreed upon way. Each has confidence in the other.
  1. Joint accounts communicate commitment. Contrastingly, separate accounts communicate a desire to remain free of accountability and responsibility to another. Separate accounts communicate you are not ready to bring everything into the marriage and can communicate you want a way out. Pooling finances raises the level of accountability and responsibility. And it demonstrates that you are committed to you spouse. Every part of you is theirs, including the bank account.

When God created marriage, He intended it to be an all-in deal. It is two becoming one. Deciding to have joint accounts can communicate transparency, trust, and commitment to your spouse. Because in marriage, it is not “my money” and “my expenditures” but “our money” and “our expenditures.”

What about you? I am sure you have some great tips for married couples as well. Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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14 thoughts on “Why Married Couples Should Have Joint Bank Accounts

  1. Art,
    Great points regarding joint accounts. I could never comprehend why a couple would have separate accounts. There is usually a flag goes up an indication of some problem if one of the partners feels the need to have a separate account. In my experience couples diminish that “oneness” of marriage with separate accounts. Financial difficulties are at least the second greatest problem the leads to divorce. Thanks for your insightful post. I’m writing a program for churches to use in premarital counseling and these are some good points regarding the submission of our financial resources to Biblical precepts.

    • Richard,

      I could not agree more. If a married couple desires to have separate accounts, where they do not have access to money or purchase history in those accounts, it is very probable there is some underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

  2. In pre-marital counseling, I have always recommended to couples to have joint banking accounts. The reasoning: “If you can’t trust each other with you money, you probably can’t trust each other period.”

  3. I totally agree with having a joint bank account. I am getting married in a few weeks and we are putting all of this in process. I do have a question…how can i still surprise my soon to be wife with gifts and all? Any good ideas?

    • Short answer: try Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University.” That’s a budgeting question. Dave is the budgeting answer man.

      Slightly longer answer: Within your monthly budget, make sure you allot each other some blow money. Use your blow money anyway you like.

  4. Hello, I am an ordained pastor and a banker in the US banking system.

    First, I want to say I agree with the spirit of this post. When I first married we combined all our bank accounts and never looked back. We did it for the right reasons and for all the reasons listed above: to communicate unity and so forth.

    However, three years ago I started working in the Banking and Lending industry and from a financial safety standpoint I can communicate that there are significant financial risks to having ONLY joint accounts. In fact, by the end of this I will show you how I can communicate unity and trust by NOT having a joint account.

    First, having a joint account means that if one person makes a mistake in finances, both will pay the price. If my wife has a student loan that goes into default they can garnish my earnings as well as hers if all our money goes into an account with both our names on it.

    Now its possible to step on a high horse and say that’s somehow Biblical as if I were to trip and break my leg my wife should also go break hers so we have unity in our suffering and mistakes, but I digress because I am certain no one here would go to such absurdities.

    Second, and this is far more important: IDENTITY THEFT. If my wife loses her purse and her identity is stolen and we have all joint accounts, then the criminal will be able to steal everything and we will be destitute. If we have several accounts some of which are in my name and some of which are in hers, then some things will remain protected from the theft. I see ID theft all. the. time. It’s pandemic. Protect yourself and your family.

    Third, the real issue here isn’t whether an account is titled joint or not. Like so many things, we humans often believe its the outward act: the act of having separate or joint accounts. In reality God’s concern is not outward actions but inward intents. It’s the ACTUAL unity and transparency that’s important, not the titling on the account.

    Fourth, and this brings me to my example, having separate accounts can actually communicate unity and commitment BETTER than joint ones. For example, in my household, the main account is under my wife’s name. 90% of my paycheck goes into HER account. Why? Well it’s not joint for security reasons, but the reason it’s got her name and not mine is she is the bookkeeper and financeer. She is really good with money and paying bills and so forth and of course she controls the grocery budget. When I tell people that, it blows their mind, “Wow you must really trust your wife.” Why yes, yes I do.

    Fifth, as I said earlier, it’s UNITY and TRANSPARENCY that are important, not titling of accounts. We share all our statements from all accounts with each other and work on the budget together.

    Last, it is important to have at least ONE joint account so you can move money from accounts in one spouse’s name to another without much issue.

    Now you can do as you will, because the Bible is silent on this issue and I believe its a serious error to go around telling people what to do from a pastoral standpoint when you don’t have the Bible to back it up. The Bible doesn’t say a thing about “joint bank accounts.” It DOES say a lot about unity in marriage, transparency and honesty, love and commitment. Hopefully today as a pastor and banker I have shown how you can fulfill all the Bible commands while still being financially sound. Thank you.

    • Jason, you bring up several good points here that are often overlooked. I fully agree with the spirit of Art’s post as well. Couples should always be working towards greater oneness in their marriage and finances are a part of that. But what I would add is that some couples come from drastically different backgrounds regarding spending and saving while others may have differences in skill and/or attention to financial details. If they have not yet been able to get on the same page financially, then a combination of joint and individual accounts, with funding at at agreed upon levels can prevent a lot of unnecessary conflict early in marriage. While it would be ideal if couples worked all of their finances and budgeting out before marriage, sometimes that takes more time (years) to fully reach consensus than the length of the engagement provides. In these situations, healthy couples may be best served via financial flexibility.

    • Three comments, please.

      I’ll start with the negative to get it out of the way, but don’t worry, I end positively.

      First, re: “having a joint account means that if one person makes a mistake in finances, both will pay the price.” Joint account or not, you’re both paying the price in a marriage. That comment didn’t make any sense to me.

      Also, re: “If my wife has a student loan that goes into default they can garnish my earnings as well as hers if all our money goes into an account with both our names on it.” That’s a close to impossible scenario, which requires lawyers and court time.

      IMO, in that paragraph, you really went over the top trying to paint a worse-case scenario that skews the picture. I don’t think that was needed for you to make your point.

      Second, your point about transparency is totally resinating with me. Good job with that.

      Third re: “the Bible is silent” You get a yes and a no from me on that comment.

      This absolutely reflects a biblical understanding even though no direct quotes that reflect today’s culture can be found. The trajectory of the biblical teaching on marriage would absolutely support the notion of keeping a single account. However, I don’t think it would close the door to other options.

      IMO, most couples are not financially savvy. For the math-challenged couples, a joint account solves many problems. However, for financially savvy people, transparency and oneness can still be achieved with separate accounts. From my observation, though, most couples would benefit from a joint account.

      • For me, a flag goes up when a woman starts talking about a joint bank account. Also, flags go up when I hear all these guys saying they hand over their paychecks to their wives. Long, long ago (back in the 1970s), that was a very foreign habit (literally, having come from Chinese and other Asian cultures I encountered in California) that the white Christians around me found mystifying. So, a) the Bible says nothing about it and b) I can trace the origins of “the woman is better at finances” to a non-Christian culture. At some point, ya’ll just have to admit you’re reflecting not the Bible but mainstream culture. “Unity” in marriage and joint bank accounts? Read Proverbs 31 for all the things that a good woman owned and operated separately from her husband. If a womana can have her own property, business, and money that she voluntarily shares with her household, so can a man. And I believe Jesus would be appalled by God’s word being misued to place fractional reserve banking in some position of priority in a relationship.

    • This makes perfect sense: one bank account that is joint to move money into.

      If a man really believes he needs his wife to monitor the finances in one joint account so that he can be accountable to God, he’s letting himself be led by the woman and not God.

      “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;” 1 Cor. 7:29. The least quoted verse on marriage in pandering to the ladies sermons.

  5. I need help please what can I do married for 13 years and my husband still dont have me on his account. Each time I bring it up he always have a cheap excuse. He becomes careless and because of this I am in dept talking to him don’t work help I feel like iam am trait in this marriage. We both work but I feel I am contributing to all his out standing bills. Please help me.

  6. To this I would add Jesus’ principle: Your heart follows your treasure.

    If you’re putting your treasure into a bank account that your spouse can’t access, then your heart is yearning for something outside of the marriage rather than for your spouse. The heart of the person who chooses to store their treasure in a separate account will lead that person away from the marriage.

    However, when couples put all their money into their marriage via a joint account, their hearts will move toward each other.

    • Likewise, if your date is focused on this question in year 1 of your dating, you get a pretty good sense of where her heart is at regarding her treasure.

      One of the topics these discussions never address is self-employment. In the majority scenario, a business cuts a check to an employee. That business has a separate account from the employee and his spouse. Unless you want your spouse to start telling you how to run your business (and you wouldn’t be self-employed if you wanted a boss, would you?), there needs to be firewall between business and personal accounts. That’s one scenario where separate finances make sense.

      But, really, so many Christian pastors (pandering, I believe, to their female audiences) make this material question into a spiritual one with zero Biblical basis that it makes you wonder where their heart is.