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Project Mix & Move: Our First Joint Checking Account

by Meghann on March 17, 2011

Now, before conclusions are jumped to, and my future financial stability is criticized, I want to make clear that Derek and I are NOT combining our money. We still have our very separate, personal bank accounts. So – no worries – neither of us have access to each other’s life savings. :)

We simply opened a single joint checking account that each person will contribute XX amount of dollars to each month. This small account will cover household expenses, groceries, dates, future vacations (hopefully!), etc.

The idea for the joint checking account came after speaking with other couples who are also trying to figure out this whole ‘living together while dating’ situation. It seems there’s a big difference between living with a significant other and living with a roommate.

When I lived with roommates in college everything was separate. We had separate leases, separate schedules, separate groceries, separate meals, etc. Nothing was combined and in a roommate situation that worked out perfectly.

Moving in with a boy has produced an opposite effect. Instead of everything being ‘mine’ (my bed, my peanut butter, my laundry, my dog), it all of a sudden became ‘ours’ (our bed, our peanut butter, our laundry, our dog scratch that – somehow Maddie is still my dog, especially when she does something naughty).

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The biggest issue was our meals. I love to cook and Derek loves to eat, but how do we purchase the food needed for those meals without stepping on each other’s toes? Everyone had a different solution.

One couple I talked to split the weekly grocery bill right down the middle and everything was fair game. Another couple took separate shopping trips and cooked their own meals based off of those trips. Another took turns paying. And yet another divided everything up. She paid for the groceries and he covered all the utilities that month.

Each way seemed logical and made sense, but Derek and I didn’t want to hand over different credit cards to the cashier every week, we didn’t want to argue who ate whose carrots, and we really didn’t feel like keeping track of whose turn it was to pay for what.

What made the most sense to us was opening a joint checking account where each of us could attribute a certain amount to on a monthly basis and have 100% access to it. The plan is to use that account for all those fun expenses for ‘our’ house and – eventually – anything left over could go towards a sweet vacation.

At least, that’s our goal. We just opened the account on Saturday and haven’t even received the debit cards that go with the account yet.

While opening the account, our bank was great at providing each of us with as much liability protection as possible. We declined the overdraft protection, so when there’s no money left in the account the card will simply be declined. We have our own separate access points to the online account with our own user names and passwords. We, also, have our own debit card with our own unique PINS.

This is a big step in our relationship and I’m curious to see how it all turns out.

Do you live with your significant other? How do you divide up household expenses?

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