My wife and I have been happily married for 39 years, and during those 39 years, we have only had one bank account between us.
I think conceptually and practically it makes sense.
Conceptually, to me, it just reinforces that what’s mine is hers, and what’s hers, is mine. We’re in this together.
Practically, it just seems so much easier to have all the money going into, and out of, one account.
I was curious what percentage of married couples have a joint account, and I found a 2014 survey by TD Bank that reported 65 percent of couples had joint bank accounts. However, 42 percent of those couples also had separate bank accounts. A Bank of America report in 2018 found that 28 percent of millennials in a relationship keep their banking completely separate.
A separate research study suggests there’s a compelling reason to consider 100 percent joint pooling of bank accounts: happiness. Across five studies they reported in a working paper, University College of London’s Joe Gladstone, Notre Dame’s Emily Garbinsky and UCLA Anderson’s Cassie Mogilner Holmes found that long-term committed couples who pool all their money into joint bank accounts are happier in their relationship and less likely to break up, compared to couples that keep some or all of their money separate.
Gladstone, Garbinsky, and Holmes’ research included more than 1,000 married people and asked them to rate on a scale of 1 (not very) to 7 (very) how satisfied they are in their relationship. They found that nearly two-thirds of these participants reported having 100 percent pooled bank accounts with their spouse, and this group was the most content, with a median relationship score of 6.10. The 22 percent of participants who reported having both joint and separate bank accounts had a median happiness score of 5.82. The 12 percent of participants who keep their bank accounts entirely separate reported the lowest median level of satisfaction, 5.46.
The researchers indicate it is important for couples to perceive their possessions and financial goals as shared, and their research identifies one practical way to facilitate this: merging bank accounts.
I know there may be situations where it may make sense to have separate accounts, but I think for most couples it makes more sense to have just one joint account.
I also know many happily married couples who have separate bank accounts, so obviously doing so does not preclude a happy relationship.
I just know that having only a joint account worked for my wife and I, and there seems to be some research supporting such an approach.