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If we have a joint checking account, do we need individual checking accounts as well?
Yes. Grown-ups need discretionary income. Sharing is important in a marriage or other committed relationship, but so is autonomy. Consider how you would feel if you had to ask permission to buy a new tie or pair of shoes every time you needed one. That would be stultifying, wouldn’t it? Remember that there are three entities here: yours, mine, and the big one, ours. “Ours” is most important, but yours and mine still count.
My wife/husband has been responsible for making a monthly deposit to our joint checking account for the car payment. Now that the car is paid off he says he shouldn’t have to put that money into the joint account. Do you agree?
No. You and your husband now have a chance to increase your future nest egg -- please don’t blow it! When a loan has been paid off or a former expense (day care, for instance) disappears, the amount of money you were paying toward it should continue to be paid at the same interval -- into an investment vehicle you choose together, toward a goal you both share.
Once our individual and joint accounts are set up, how do we save for our future together?
The first step is to contribute as much as you can to your employers’ 401(k) plans or other work related retirement plans and/or to an IRA. (If you ate self-employed, fund a SEP-IRA or a KEOGH plan.) As your circumstances improve, regularly contribute to a non-retirement plan investment vehicle as well. Once again, use a proportional contribution approach to creating this nest egg, which you should plan to share equally in the future. if one of you makes considerably more money than the other and wants to invest more than the proportional amount, it is up to both of you to decide -- preferably in a pre-nup -- to whom that money will go in the event of a divorce.