Should Couples Keep Separate Bank Accounts?

Should Couples Keep Separate Bank Accounts?

Managing your finances is one of the most important decisions you will make as a couple. The traditional view is that couples should join their assets. Combining your resources is a concrete way to show that you are joining your lives together. However, there has been more room for discussion recently. As women become more financially independent and people marry later in life, this may not be the best decision. If you are in a serious relationship, you should discuss with your partner if it is better for couples to keep separate bank accounts.

The Reasons for Separate Bank Accounts

When confronted with this question, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of opening a joint bank account. Having my own accounts gave me autonomy since I had full control of my finances. Furthermore, I was not responsible for paying down my partner’s debts or support payments. I did not like anyone else having access to my funds without permission. Separate accounts also mean that no one can track or question your expenditures.

Some have told me this is a very cynical outlook. On the contrary, I feel it is a way to protect yourself and your assets. Statistics show that nearly half of marriages fail. Often times, finances are a huge contributing factor to marital problems. In my experience, there were fewer arguments about money. At the end of the day, couples who keep separate bank accounts will have more security yet less paperwork and bitter fighting over assets if they split up.

The Reasons for Joint Bank Accounts

Over time, I came to understand that pooling your resources builds trust with your partner. Not only do you have a shared goal for your future, there is less suspicion when you have transparency. In addition, it provides a clearer picture of your financial situation. With a joint account, there are few opportunities for surprises such as hidden accounts or debts.

There are also practical reasons for opening a joint account with your partner. In case of an emergency, it removes obstacles if your spouse needs to access the money. If you are unavailable or unable to allow access, it could create unnecessary headaches and frustration. Joint accounts also streamline the process of transferring funds to your partner after death. There is a significant amount of red tape if you maintain separate accounts.

The Right Decision for You

In the end, only you and your partner know what is best for your situation. In my case, I chose to retain my private accounts while opening one joint account to pay bills. I still had full control over my own finances. However, we also shared responsibility for our monthly expenses. The sense of equal partnership and accountability created shared goals without giving up my financial independence. It also created balance since one partner did not need to ask for an allowance or permission to spend money.

I also feel that having our own spending cash prevented a lot of conflict. As long as our bills were paid, we were free to use our personal funds any way we saw fit. I was able to splurge occasionally without someone watching my every move. It allowed breathing room in the relationship and eliminated anxiety.  Money matters can be difficult to navigate as you intertwine you life with someone else. The only way to determine what is best for you is through open communication. Carefully consider all the pros and cons before you make a decision that will affect the course of your financial future.

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7 Awesome Tricks for Saving Money

Many people are so focused on making money they’re prepared to do just about anything to achieve that goal. Aside from slaving all day in the office, they have no problem skipping important family holidays and being available 24/7. 

As a result, workaholics have a tendency to overspend, justifying it as a way of tackling mental and physical fatigue. So, instead of putting yourself in a position to fail, why don’t you simply work less but make the same money through smart spending? 

In this article, we talk about 7 incredible tricks that will help you save your family resources. We’ll review some direct, actionable tricks but will also talk about ways to change your mentality. 

  • Change your outlook 

If you really wish to save money, the first thing you need to do is change your outlook on spending and materialism. This is really tough for most people, especially those who are looking for more from life. 

People in the Western world often falsely think that buying expensive gadgets will justify their overwork. However, as it turns out, it often puts them in a mental hole when the loans start piling up. Buying a fancy new car is awesome, but once you start suffering from stress and exhaustion, it quickly becomes a burden. 

  • Tracking expenses

One of the simplest and most straightforward tricks is tracking your expenses. Make a list of all the things you’ve bought during a month and put all the unnecessary products and services in a separate category. This will help you determine how much you could potentially save by cutting those down.

You can further break down these categories into food and restaurants, online product purchases, and travel. In theory, you don’t necessarily have to remove all the goodies from your life. However, you should decide what you wish to prioritize and eliminate. 

  • Cook at home

Nowadays, people appreciate the luxury of eating in restaurants. Truth be told, it’s always nice to have someone else cooking your meals, especially if that person cooks much better than you. Unfortunately, this is also one of the fastest money drains.

“Americans who regularly eat in restaurants spend three times the money on food,” according to CST Group, one of the best CPA firms in Northern Virginia. This number might be even higher depending on your choice of venues. So, we suggest you explore the restaurants in your city and find quality but cheap places.

  • Online shopping 

When we talk about this type of shopping, we mostly refer to unnecessary online purchases. The internet has made it so much easier to spend your money, where you don’t even have to leave your bed. Whether it’s clothes, toys, or gadgets, we overspend on things we barely use later.

Staying away from sites such as Amazon is really hard especially given that most modern people are glued to their phones and laptops. Ideally, you should create a monthly and annual budget for online purchases, so you can at least limit expenses. 

  • Reduce tourist spending

Another common mistake is overspending during vacations. Given that the vacation is your time to relax, most people spend unreasonable amounts of money just to make it a bit better. However, the truth is you can even have a fantastic vacation with a limited budget.

First off, we suggest that you rent Airbnb in cheaper neighborhoods that are well-connected with the rest of the city. Then, find an affordable restaurant in that part of the city where you’ll take most of your meals. Lastly, learn when the museums are free, and visit them on those days.

  • Cut your bills

Similarly, people don’t pay attention to their utility bills. Once again, we often justify this by saying that we don’t have to track every little thing we use.

Whatever the case might be, you can significantly cut your bills by changing your daily habits. Use electricity when it’s the cheapest and reduce your water spending. Additionally, you can make a significant impact by insulating your home and updating heating systems.

  • Consolidate debts

A simple way to reduce your spending is by consolidating debts. By combining them together, it will be easier to track how much you owe and will also help reduce the interest. 

There are two ways you can go about things. The first method is taking a new loan that will allow you to pay off all current debts. You should also check if there are any available 0% transfer credit deals. They would allow you to avoid paying interest for a certain amount of time.

Can You Spend Money That a Bank Mistakenly Deposited?

Can You Spend Money That a Bank Mistakenly Deposited?

During my freshman year of college, I faced an ethical dilemma that has led to many interesting debates. When I checked my account balance, I noticed a credit of $1,000. As bank errors go, this one was relatively small. But to a poor college kid who only expected to see $100 in the account, this was like hitting the jackpot. I knew the bank had mistakenly deposited the money. However, when I tried to do the right thing, the teller assured me there was no mistake. So at this point, would the money be yours to spend?

What Happens if a Bank Mistakenly Deposited Money in Your Account?

Mistakes are a part of life. People aren’t perfect and technology can create errors. But what should you do when the bank makes an error in your favor?

Noticing the Error

In all honesty, my first thought was “Free money!” At that time in my life, I was working 40 hours a week and going to school full-time. So, it could have gone a long way toward improving my quality of life. But deep down, I knew it wasn’t mine to keep. And if I tried, I would probably get caught.

To this day, I’m still not sure if it was an accounting error or a simple mistake on the teller’s part. Although it was tempting to keep it, you should report these errors as soon as you notice them. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those instances where the “finders, keepers” rule applies. Even if the bank insists there was no mistake, don’t spend the money because it will come to collect it eventually.

Better to Be Safe Than Sorry

Sure, there are times people spend the funds and get away with it. But more often than not, you will have to pay it back if a bank mistakenly deposits money and you use it.

It doesn’t usually take long for someone to notice the money is missing from their account. When they do, the person will contact the bank immediately to fix the error. Even when no one reports the errors, financial institutions conduct audits to catch mistakes just like this. And if someone notices the extra money in the account, they don’t need permission to remove the funds. So if you already spent it, you could find yourself in hot water.

What Are the Penalties if You Try to Keep It?

As you would expect, there will be penalties if you try to keep money that isn’t yours. For one couple, it led to criminal charges. So, it’s best to assume the bank will realize they have mistakenly deposited money into your account and will reverse the transaction.

However, this could create a serious problem if the money isn’t there. It could send your account into the red, leading to overdraft and late fees. And if it happens repeatedly, it will also affect your credit score.

Furthermore, the bank will conduct an investigation. If they discover the missing funds, they can freeze your accounts or even file a police report. Not only will you be ordered to repay the money, but it could also include criminal charges. Depending on the amount, you could face charges for theft, property loss, or receiving stolen property, all of which carry heavy fines or jail time. The penalties will be even harsher if you attempt to close the account, transfer it to another account, invest it, or gift it to family and friends.

What Should You Do If a Bank Mistakenly Deposits Money?

So, what should you do if this happens?

  • Don’t spend any of it. If money appears in your account and you don’t know where it came from, don’t touch it. Don’t spend it, don’t transfer it, don’t give it away…just let it sit in the account. Tampering with the funds could have huge consequences.
  • Report it immediately. The next step is to notify someone immediately. Try to include important details about when you noticed the error. It’s also wise to take down the name, time, and date of when you contacted the bank. Make sure you keep records of all communication on the issue in case anyone has follow-up questions.
  • Wait for the results of the investigation. When they find the mistake, the bank will conduct an investigation to determine the origin of the funds. They must establish that it was a mistake, not an unexpected gift from someone. Afterward, they will reverse the transaction. Banks usually respond within 10 days, but longer investigations can take up to 6 weeks. If you have questions about the process, you can find more details about the timelines in your account agreement.
  • Follow-up for results. Some banks are better at communication than others. If you haven’t heard back from your bank within 45 days, contact them for a progress update.
  • Monitor your accounts. The fact that mistakes like this happen is a good reason to regularly review your finances. Therefore, I make it a habit to monitor my accounts. I use a combination of credit reports, online banking, and account notifications to keep tabs on my finances. On more than one occasion, it has helped me spot accounting errors and fraudulent activity as soon as they happen.

Food for Thought

Mistakes happen, both as a result of human and technological errors. But, life has a way of correcting mistakes.

There is always a chance that you will get away with keeping the money. But even if you find a legal loophole that allows you to keep it, there is a difference between legality and morality. These hypothetical situations should make you think twice about what you would do, especially if the situation is reversed. In my experience, what goes around comes around. And if I were the one with the missing funds, I hope that whoever received the money would take actions to correct the mistake.

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