Should a couple have separate or joint account: A case study of a couple with separate finances

I have a one track mind when it comes to family finances. I believe a couple must have a joint bank account to deal with family expenses such as mortgage, rent, utilities and groceries. However each adult member of the family also must have a seperate account to deal with separate personal financing involving personal care and self care.

However I had a recent conversation with a family member about how her and her finances work. Her and her husband have no joint account and they decide who pays for each area of the family finace such as mortage, utilities, and groceries. They have been married for more than 5 years, and it seems to be working for them because they own a home, have two children, and enjoy family outings and vacations. They also have individual savings and have money to take care of their personal needs.

So the question begs what is the best way to handle family finances since a separate account seems to working for this particular couple. Here is how to figure out what may be the best option for you and your spouse. The studies show having a joint account is the best way to go, however if you choose to operate with separate account, here is what conditions should exists:

a) You both have to be responsible with money and both willing to contribute to what areas you responsible for regardless of your situations

b) Both of you have to have fulltime, and stable work that can separately cover the family expenses

c) Both have to be non-traditionally minded. You both have to be fluid with the sense of what both genders are resposible for

If these conditions exist then you could have a successful separate financial setup. However my only reservation about separate bank accounts is that it does not promote team work or family planning. It may not be reflected in the short term, but could have a major effect in the long term. I am proud of this family member and her finacial achievements with her husband, however my concern sometimes is the lack of planning. I asked the question “how do you decide where to eat and who pays when you go out to a restaurant?” the answer was “we alternate and stick to restaurants that are within the same price range” To me, it seems there is a lack of teamwork and too much compromise. We will see what the future holds, but seems to be working for them because they have achieved a family goal that many in Vancouver can only dream of achieving.

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