Should You Open a Joint Bank Account Once You Get Married? Here's What Suze Orman Says

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KEY POINTS

  • You may be inclined to combine finances with your spouse once you tie the knot.
  • Suze Orman says opening a joint account could backfire on you.
  • If you have a different approach to money than your spouse, a joint account could be a source of friction or an imbalance of power.

You may be surprised at the answer.

When my husband and I got married, one of the first financial moves we made was to set up a joint bank account and close out our individual accounts. We figured that since we were living together and combining finances, it made sense to have all of our money in the same place.

Of course, that decision was based on mutual trust. My husband and I are secure in the fact that we wouldn't make a large purchase or take a large cash withdrawal from our savings without consulting the other first. And so that made me more comfortable with the idea of having a joint bank account.

But if you ask financial guru Suze Orman what she thinks about joint bank accounts, she might say that my husband and I made a big mistake. And while we're not necessarily looking to undo it more than a decade after the fact, if you're getting married, you may want to think twice about opening a joint account with your spouse.

There's a benefit to financial autonomy

You might think that opening a joint bank account with your spouse will make it easier to manage your money. But Orman cautions that opening a joint account with a partner could actually make money matters worse.

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Orman says that having a joint account with a spouse could lead to an imbalance of power and loss of autonomy. And it's easy to see why she feels that way.

Let's imagine you and your spouse have different mindsets when it comes to money. Maybe one of you is a natural spender while the other is more of a saver. If you combine all of your cash reserves into a single account, you might each feel pigeonholed into the other's approach to money -- even if you want to do things differently. That could lead to a host of arguments through the years. And since it's not a secret that money issues tend to be a big driver of divorce, that's a scenario you may want to avoid by maintaining separate accounts from the start.

In fact, Orman and her wife Kathy Travis have been together for more than 20 years. But Orman says they've yet to open a joint bank account.

What's the right move for you?

Opening a joint account with a spouse could end up being a source of strife. And if that's a concern of yours, keeping separate accounts may be a better setup.

That said, one option worth looking at is opening a joint account that you and your spouse contribute to equally and use to pay all of your joint expenses, like your mortgage and utility bills. Then, you can each maintain a separate account that you have more control over. If you want to spend the money in your account while your spouse saves the money in theirs, so be it.

On my end, I don't think my husband and I will be setting up separate accounts anytime soon simply because we've managed just fine with a joint account for a long time. But going that route isn't for everyone. And if that's how you feel, then there's certainly no need to fully combine your finances just because you're tying the knot.

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