Let’s face it: we’re all getting older. We may be young, but more than likely, it’s not as young as you would like. There are many things going on in today’s world, and people in their early to mid-twenties are constantly worrying about “adulting.” It’s highly likely that people even younger or older are in the same boat, but it’s a reality we all need to come to terms with. If you’re in your early to mid-twenties, it’s more than likely that you aren’t married yet and don’t have a family, but again, this could be wrong. Marriage and a family may seem to be in the distant future for some of us, and we don’t think about the budget that’s going to go along with it. If we think of this, it’s possible that we may believe that it’s an easy thing to manage and plan for.
Twenty-somethings enjoy the “pick up and go” lifestyle: you want to travel? Go do it. You want to buy something expensive? You’ll blow an entire paycheck on something that’s considered “high fashion.” This may be okay for now – when you don’t have a mortgage payment or rent and bills and utilities; however, once you take that next step in your relationship or move forward into the next phase of life, you might be getting a wake-up call. If you think about a relationship and compromising and working things out to make everything work, financial issues are common. Each person handles finances differently, as does each family. A family is seen as one working organism. With this being the case, separate funds may be seen as uncomfortable or unnecessary, but it’s all a personal opinion. This couple will differ from that one and so on and so forth. On the flip-side, individual accounts are also very common because it eliminates any spats in regards to buying.
So, what are these two budgets pluses and minus? Well, there’s pros and cons to both situations, so follow along as we go through these ups and downs and allow yourself to make your own decision or form or your own opinion. After all, they don’t say “to each his own” for nothing.
On a more typical, classical view of a family’s budget, we tend to think that this budget poses to be the most fair option. Why? Well that’s simple: because in being part of a family, the priorities or utmost importance are love, trust, and respect for each other. So, on one hand, the joint budget is great; however, it can also raise a number of issues amongst the family. Some issues may arise in regards to different education, attitudes to life and worlds.
We can deny it all we want, but without a doubt, there’s an involuntary comparison on who “pulls more weight” in this budget. People will say, “oh no, not me,” but you have to admit, there comes a point where this thought crosses your mind. When that happens, a demonstration of “supremacy” develops and builds from there. This is especially noticeable when two family members bring home vastly different salaries and one of them is not entirely comfortable with the idea (Northwestern Mutual.)
Until it happens to you, I don’t believe you can fully grasp it. It’s evident for many people, but for some it’s something that they can get passed and move on from. If your earnings are higher than that of your spouse or significant other, it can lead to possible uneasy feelings. If you’re making twice or three times as much as what your significant other makes, but he or she is spending more than his/her earnings, it can lead to uncomfortable grounds and conversations.
If one half of the couple has expensive taste or expensive hobbies, there will come a point when you have to talk things through and see if it’s really worth what you’re spending. It’s a difficult conversation to have; however, with a joint account, it’s a necessary one.
While there are some cons to this joint bank account, the plus sides are aplenty as well. For example, it’s much more convenient to have everything in one place. You can see your income vs. expenses very easily and build from there on what needs to be changed, if anything. You can budget accordingly and plan out ways to save your money based on where it’s all going. If you’re spending too much on random, unnecessary items, you can set a budget for that. If you’re really good at saving money, but could use even just an ounce more of savings, you can plan ways to save while still spending, like find coupons, discounts and promo codes from places like ChameleonJohn to help you save on those necessities of life. Keeping everything in one place also helps achieve familial goals you may have set for yourselves. By combining two incomes into one, that next big purchase becomes more attainable (Northwestern Mutual.)
All in all, join accounts have pros and cons, but it is up to you as a couple to decide what is best for you and your situation. Teamwork, equality and convenience are just a few of the pros to a joint account and working together as one unit. On the opposite viewpoint, it can also possibly lead to disagreements about money and how it is spent.
An individual budget comes about when spouses or significant others are trying to be independent. The amount of freedom and independence is determined by the participants of the story, no outside forces should have a say in how families or couples spend their money. At first, you might think that managing your own money is super convenient because you don’t have to worry about someone watching over your shoulder; however, this isn’t always the case. Some things are needed to be discussed and be common knowledge, but not everything. As with joint accounts, there are pros and cons that way on having individual accounts. If you make more than your spouse or significant other, there’s no worry of that being taken advantage of. On top of this, if someone has more loans to pay off than the other, individual accounts let that be taken care of by the person who has the debt (Northwestern Mutual.)
Negatively, though, there are a few things that aren’t so great when it comes to individual budgets. When you have bills to pay, credit cards, mortgages, utilities, etc., individual accounts make everything more difficult because it’s harder to track who’s paying what and if this got paid or not. It’s possible that you thought that your spouse was paying that bill; however, he or she thought you were and in turn, it didn’t get paid. Now, I’m not saying this happens to you, but it’s possible. When a bill goes unpaid, you acquire late fees that make it even more difficult to pay (Money.com.)
On top of that, thinking of the worst possible scenario: what if something happened to your significant other and they were unable to access the account he or she has on his or her own? That money is basically gone. You can’t access what isn’t “yours,” even though you shared everything else.
If you’ve discussed separate budgets, great; however, if you didn’t, this could become a cause of an unnecessary conflict. There could be feelings of distrust or hurt if you keep your accounts separated unless you’ve previously discussed it. No matter the type of account you choose, it needs to be mutually agreed upon and any qualms discussed.
Why Not Both?
Now, maybe you can’t figure out a way to make one or the other work. You’ve discussed it and you can’t come to an agreement, but you don’t want to stress about it or fight about it any longer: no problem! There’s no rule that says you can’t have both. Sure, the balances wouldn’t be as substantial as if you had one or the other, but it’s something that works and you can’t argue on.
For the joint account, any utilities, bills or family expenses, like kids’ activities or vacations, doctor’s visits, etc., can come out of this account because it’s for the betterment of your family and the life you’re living. Anything that has to do with your family should come out of this account because as one family unit, I feel as though the entire family should be behind it (U.S. News.)
That expensive hobby I mentioned? Individual account. By using your own money for your own hobbies or interests, you have no reason to worry about an argument brewing between you and your significant other. Why? Because it’s your money being spent on your purchase. Maybe you want to surprise your significant other with a special gift that they’ve just been dying to have, but you don’t want him or her to know about it. You can dip into your individual account and he or she will be none the wiser until the day said gift is received. By having both accounts set up, you can work out how much of your monthly salary goes into each budget.
For me, the majority of it would go into the joint account because family is the most important thing; however, some people may have it other ways. It’s all personal preference, but by having both accounts available, you needn’t worry about any financial spats.
Overall, every person has a different opinion or viewpoint on what to do when it comes to the three “Fs,” as I’m going to call them: the future, family and finances. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a certain type of way, but what is wrong is if you and your spouse or significant other don’t work it out and come to an agreement.
With all the stress and chaos of today’s world, agreeing on something like this is the easiest way to survive and not stress the small stuff. Not everyone will agree with anything I said, but the words written above are words to ruminate on and think about when you decide to launch yourself full-throttle into the real world of “adulting.”