How We Set Up Our Joint Checking Account

We did it, guys. We set up a joint checking account. We are sharing our finances. I’ve had a couple people ask how we set it up and how it’s been working since we started so I’m sharing a pretty detailed breakdown of what we do. It’s easily customized based on what your expenses are! How do you and your partner handle money?

1. List your recurring shared expenses

Our recurring shared expenses are:

  • Rent
  • Electric
  • Comcast
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Apple iCloud
  • Spotify

For each point we broke down how much each person would pay for that thing. For everything except rent we split it 50/50 down the middle.

2. List your recurring shared expenses pt 2

The above items are fixed and recur every month, on an automatic basis in most cases. But there are a lot of other things we spend money on together that aren’t on that list.

  • Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Entertainment
  • Shared Home Purchases
  • Our Kitten
  • Gifts for Friends
  • Laundry
  • Gas

3. Set a Budget

For part two we set a budget. We looked at how much we usually spend on groceries per month and then determined what would be a good place to try and stick to. Then we figured out, for each bullet point, how much each of us could contribute to that budget. Sometimes one partner might care more about one category than the other. Sometimes one partner might make more than the other so it makes more sense for them to add in a bit more money. Discuss until you come up with numbers that feel pretty fair on both sides.

Between these two lists, and after discussing a budget, you should each have an individual number that you will be contributing every month to your joint expenses.

4. Optional: Savings Account

I really liked the idea of putting aside a set amount of money each month for shared savings goals. Big ones for me are travel/vacations, an emergency fund, and larger house items (furniture.) You can tuck this money aside and watch it build until there’s enough stocked away for x-emergency or x-fun thing.

5. Budget What’s Left

After I had a number for our joint account, I subtracted that from what I make each month. Whatever was left was “my money” and I created a separate budget for that. This is where my money usually ends up:

  • Individual bills
    • Health bills
    • Credit card payments
    • Phone bill
    • Other various payment plans
  • Books
  • Craft supplies
  • Blog fees
  • Happy Hour with friends (when J isn’t with me)
  • Eating dinner or lunch out (when J isn’t with me)
  • Snail mail (stationary, pens, greeting cards)
  • Gifts for J

6. Set up a Recurring Transfer

You could go straight to your workplace and have the direct deposit go to two different accounts. I’ve gone the other route and have all of my money deposited into my personal account and then transfer over to our shared account. Because I get paid every two weeks, I divided my share by two, and make two transfers each month.

So far our system has worked very well. It’s nice to not have to think about who paid for what and when and have to transfer money back and forth through Square Cash. It also created a really nice feeling of partnership. We’re working together to save money, we’re working together to spend smarter, and we’re enjoying the money that’s in our account, together. Ultimately this step into togetherness is why I was interested in the shared account, to begin with. The fact that we share mostly similar ideas about money and are both working full time made a big difference.

I always thought people who fought about money were silly. Money isn’t worth an argument. The older I get, the more I see how important creating clear ideas about money is. It’s wrapped into how we want to live our lives, how we want to grow old, how we feel about being prepared.

Don’t belittle these conversations and don’t run away from them. Think of them as multi-faceted conversations about what you feel is most important in your life and what kind of life you want to have with your partner. Then start preparing to make that happen as best as anyone can.

Have any questions? Need advice? Submit now!

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  1. For years, I saved the first statement we received from our joint account because it was the first physical thing in the world that had both our names on it. Then, at some point, she threw it away not realizing why it was still round. That’s me, the sentimental one…

    1. When we got our checks I was *so* disappointed they didn’t have both of our names on them. They were only temporary checks though, so I think I can request the actual pack have both our names, lol. I feel you.

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