This series was inspired by the recent marriage in the family. I organized some information with my brother in law and new sister in law in mind, though the information can apply to others looking at their finances. If you find these tips to be useful, please share them.

Seeing how finances can have an impact on marriage, here are tips and stories to help you avoid common financial pitfalls of married couples.

Having joint accounts, separate accounts, or a combination of the two is a very personal and emotional topic. Each couple has to decide for themselves what’s best for them. Find out how we and other handle our finances. i think this is a great opportunity to learn.

Our Joint and Individual Bank Accounts

Joint Checking

This is our main account and a big chunk of our paychecks is directed towards it. It’s an online bank account (we used to have a Bank of America account) that we use to pay our bills like rent, groceries, cable, light, Internet, doctor visits, and car insurance . My paychecks come in on a weekly basis and my husband deposits twice a month. The majority of our bills are scheduled and automated.

Joint Savings

We  use this to keep our emergency fund and our house down payment. With interest rates going down, we’re not earning as much as we did before, but it’s still more than the local bank options right now.

Individual Accounts

We have our individual accounts at Wachovia. These individual accounts are for splurges such as lunches out, gifts, gadgets, and gasoline. We know the balance of each other’s account and we can access them in an emergency.

All of our bank accounts have no maintenance fees.

How We Budget Our Joint Accounts for Income:

I think the key for us is keeping it easy to use and easy to change. We use a Google Spreadsheet for our joint budgeting. It lists our deposits and expenses for the month. We also add a buffer in case we go over. Using Google for our spreadsheet is great as we share the spreadsheet and it notifies the other of changes.

We review this on an as needed basis, if someone gets a raise or works more hours, etc. To determine how much each deposits, we go by monthly income and come up with a percentage and then use that to calculate deposits.

How Others Handle Their Finances

Jim from Bargaineering and his wife have joint accounts.

Baker explains why they handle their finances with joint accounts:

Once we were married though it was our debt.  Our income is our income.  Our bills are our bills.  Our financial goals are our financial goals.  I love the fact that we have one shared plan and are constantly working together to implement it.

JD from Get Rich Slowly and his wife have separate accounts.

Your Take

How do you handle your joint finances?