Living together: the joint checking account

When living together, this is one of those practical matters that must be carefully considered. There are various ways to arrange this. However, my preference is for a joint and/or account on which payments of all fixed costs are made and on keeping my own account from which the income comes in.

Joint checking account

  • Work for your money
  • The fair way of paying
  • Calculation example of calculating pro rata
  • The benefits of a separate joint checking account
  • Disadvantages of a separate joint checking account


Work for your money

Let’s be realistic. It is no longer contemporary to only have a joint checking account. We live in a society where both men and women often work. We all work hard for our money. Why on earth would we lump all income into one lump? When you are convinced that you can rely on your partner, it can also be done in a different and honest way.

The fair way of paying

  1. Arrange a joint checking account at a different bank than your current account. When making a choice, you can take into account the amount of interest you pay when you are in the red. Does the bank also give interest if you have a positive bank balance? What are the costs per year for one or two passes? These matters vary enormously per bank.
  2. Calculate the total expenses per month. These are all fixed costs that you want to pay together.
  3. Calculate the ratio of income to total expenses per person. You do this by adding both incomes together. You then divide his income by this total income and multiply it by 100. The result is the percentage of his contribution. You do the same with your income. If you know the ratio, you can calculate pro rata what everyone’s contribution is to jointly pay all expenses. So multiply his percentage by the total amount of expenses to find out how much his contribution is in euros. You then calculate your contribution. The person who earns the most bears the most costs, but this is in proportion to the total income. What remains is for yourself. If there is virtually nothing left for yourself, it is time to take a critical look at your fixed costs, especially if your expenses are greater than your salary.
  4. Agree that only joint costs will be paid with this joint account. All other costs for clothing, care items, etc. are for your own account. If you have children, the costs will of course be borne by the joint checking account.
  5. Automatically transfer the personal contribution monthly.


Calculation example of calculating pro rata

Suppose you have budgeted expenses at €2,500. Your partner has a net income of 1,800 and you have 1,250. This is a total net income of €3,050. Your partner’s share is then 59% (1800/3050*100), which amounts to 1,475.00 (59/100*2500). However, your share is 41% (1250/3050*100), which is 1,025 (41/100*2500).
The remaining amount (€325 for your partner and €225 for you) seems unfair, but in reality it is calculated in proportion to the income. You contribute the same amount in proportion to each other’s income.

The benefits of a separate joint checking account

  • The biggest advantage is that everyone retains control over their own income.
  • Everyone can spend the remaining amount at their own discretion, without needing the other person’s permission.
  • You don’t have to worry about it, because the monthly contribution is automatically transferred to the joint account.
  • You keep the joint fixed expenses separate from all other expenses. Nowadays, much is done via direct debit or you can program periodic transfers in such a way that they happen automatically.
  • There is risk spreading: the income arrives at a different bank than where the payments are made. If the bank through which the income comes in collapses, you can immediately provide your employer with another account number into which your salary can be deposited. If the bank with which you pay for everything collapses, you will at least still have your income available and you can quickly make other arrangements.


Disadvantages of a separate joint checking account

  • You will incur the costs for two additional debit cards.
  • Due to unforeseen expenses, it may be necessary to transfer money from the savings account or to make an additional contribution.

In my opinion, this is a fair and mature way of dealing with income and expenditure within a household. It contributes to maintaining a sense of self-esteem. After all, you work hard for your money. It is therefore only fair to have a say in this and to distribute expenses fairly.

read more

  • How to change banks or checking accounts yourself
  • Money: a necessary evil
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