Love, Relationships and Finance: Joint Accounts

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Should my husband/wife and I open a joint bank account?

In our opinion, a joint checking account or a money-market fund with both of your names on it is essential. You have decided to join your lives and share your financial resources, and this ac count is symbolic of that union. Unless you plan to start calculating who drinks more orange juice or uses more toothpaste, you must have a place to house the money you use to pay for your shared bills and expenses. You must also start saving together for the future.

OK, I’ve done the monthly income-and-expense calculations you suggested earlier. Our expenses, including the additional 10 percent, come to about $5,000 a month. What's next?

Now you and your spouse should prepare to contribute exactly the same percentage of your salaries toward the expenses that you share, just as I ad vise couples who are living together to do. But re member: The amounts you contribute do not have to be the same to make your contributions equal, only the percentages.

It doesn’t seem fair that I have to contribute more just because I make more. Does this mean I have a bigger say in how we spend the money?

On a percentage basis, you are not contributing more; you and your wife / husband are contributing the same proportion of your salaries to the joint ac count. Also, in most states, both parties’ income is legally considered joint property; since the marriage is a financial as well as an emotional partnership, remember? Third, even though you may be paid more than your spouse, this does not mean you work harder. Not should you have more power over your resources or be entitled to a larger voice in decision making. The world, as most of us discovered when we were children, is seldom a fair place -- if it were, women wouldn’t make an average 72 cents to every dollar a man makes. The measure of a committed relationship is this and only this: Is each partner bringing all possible resources to the relationship?

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Monday, May 5, 2008 10:57