Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

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Once we’d decided how we were going to pay for the wedding, we both assumed that it was best to just set up a joint savings account at the bank we already used, that way we could easily transfer funds into and out of it as needed.

Then it occurred to me that, just maybe, it might be better to set up a joint checking account instead of a savings account. After all, while we were giving ourselves a certain amount of lead-time, eventually we’re going to be needing to take funds out on a regular basis to cover deposits and other purchases. Some savings accounts might allow a few withdrawals a month with no penalty, but towards the end that might be a problem.

A checking account it is, right? Until I actually looked it up and learned our bank charges a nominal fee for accounts not hooked to a minimum direct deposit or a $1500 balance. Um, yeah, not so good for starting out our wedding fund.

So the search was on–does anyone offer fee-free checking anymore? Not at the big banks, it turns out. But if you start looking local (and don’t forget about any credit unions you might be able to join) you can usually find a couple of options out there.

The thing is, you have to weigh the costs over the convenience. Our bank only charged $5 a month for balances under $1500–not extravagant, by any means, but a charge nonetheless. Putting away a couple hundred dollars a month means the fee would only be applied for the first few months, but when you’re on a tight budget, even a little bite could be uncomfortable.

Still, is $5 a month worth the time it would take to set up an account at an unfamiliar bank and drive over our deposits on the odd lunch break? If we went with another bank, it would need to be one with convenient ATM machines or–better yet–Saturday hours for when we needed cash for certain expenses. Not to mention the hassle of closing a new account.

But we’re online folks–the more we can do from our laptops the better. What kind of options are there? Well, first we considered a PayPal account. About the only thing you can’t do is write checks directly from the account, which may or may not be important to your vendors, but it does allow ease of deposits and transfers and a MasterCard Debit Card for most other purchases.

Another option was ING Direct–they offer both online savings and checking accounts, you can link up to 3 personal checking accounts to your online checking for ease of transfers, an ATM network with no fees and the ability to write checks against your account. Sounds like a definite contender to me!

Whatever route you decide to take, it’s helpful to have one place set aside to keep track of wedding expenses and available budget. Whether a piggy bank, a savings account or one credit card you use and then pay off each month.

Where are you stocking your wedding day funds?
Any options I haven’t listed here that maybe I should have? 

To Join or Not To Join?

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
wedding bands on a fan of $50 bills

image via stock.xchng | photography by penywise

Your checking accounts, of course.

His and hers. Yours and Mine. Ours and theirs. Money can be quite a mine-field in a relationship, especially if the two people involved have different philosophies about the management of those funds. As progressive as we’ve become these days–brides not taking the groom’s last name, the groom taking the bride’s name, offbeat weddings galore and traditions thrown out the window–joint checking seems to still be the default for newlyweds.

(Disclaimer: This is written with a definite bias against joint checking, I’m not even going to try and deny it.)

One thing that really gets me is when I hear a woman say (usually at one of those home parties or out on a shopping trip) “Oh, I’ll have to hide the statement this month!” Really? You’re going to hide your spending from your husband and you think not only is it appropriate that it’s funny as hell at the fast-one you’re pulling on him?


That right there is one of the biggest downsides to joint-banking I’ve ever heard. It’s right up there with the idea of having to ask permission to spend money. In fact, having to ask permission of your spouse for anything just strikes me as a bad idea–either you’re equal partners, capable of responsible behavior or you’re not. And if you’re not, then you’ve got more to consider than just whether to combine funds once you marry.

It’s not just women that buy into this permissive spending idea, either. I’ve known couples where the woman controls the purse-strings and the man has to ask for money to go out with friends (emasculating much?). Or the guys who use direct deposit for their paychecks but get a certain amount held out as a paper check each week so they have pocket money that the wife doesn’t know about.

Does anyone else think this sort of duplicity is as backwards as I do?

When I was first married we had joint checking. One night, on the way home from a cake decorating class I stopped by Target. You see, I’d heard that Kitchen Aid mixers were on sale for $199 and I wanted one. Badly. It was late when I arrived home and my husband had already gone to bed. In fear that he’d make me take that precious mixer back I unpacked it, plugged it in, and tore up the packaging.

The mixer was a good deal and a justifiable expense–I was teaching cake decorating classes and even doing wedding cakes by that point, a hand mixer wasn’t going to cut it. The mixer is still going strong 13 years later, the marriage didn’t last another year.

So I get it, really I do, when a woman half-jokes about getting in trouble for how much she’s spending. But just because I understand it, doesn’t mean it makes sense.

Not when there are other options.

My second marriage, we kept our own checking accounts. It was, compared to previous experiences, pretty close to heaven to be responsible for how and when I spent the money I earned. Yes, we’d help each other out should something unfortunate happen and the usual budget wasn’t enough (I think maybe twice in 3 years I had to ask for help with the grocery bill), but otherwise we were pretty autonomous money-wise.

Separate accounts does bring up the question of how best to pay the household expenses. There are a few of ways to go about it and it just takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Scenario A:

Equitable distribution of payments. Say one spouse owns the home before marriage, he or she makes the mortgage payment. The other spouse, then, takes on the smaller household bills that, when totaled, equal the mortgage payment or thereabouts. They each cover personal expenses. Fairly straightforward provided both people make similar amounts of money.

Scenario B:

Also known as semi-joint checking. This involves opening up a joint account which both partners contribute to from their personal accounts. Beneficial when one person makes a significant amount more than the other. If you want to use this account for groceries and other more fluid expenses, consider keeping a fixed “buffer” amount in the account at all times. This will allow out-of-the-ordinary payments that can then be replenished afterwards without affecting the usual bill payments.

It helps to have all the accounts at the same bank, by the way; makes transfers easier.

Scenario C:

Roommates forever. You split everything household right down the middle. Used to be this was a pain, back when everyone still used checks to pay bills. With nearly every bank offering online bill pay and so many places accepting electronic payments, splitting each bill as it comes in is easy as pie.

The Road Trip thought we’d use Scenario B when we first moved in together but never really got around to it. We’ve each been saving up for the wedding expenses since a few months before officially announcing our engagement and haven’t gotten around to opening a joint account for that, either! Instead, we use Scenario C and have for several years, now, with no problems. We also take turns by week for groceries, for anyone who’s curious.

Of course, those scenarios all depend on both partners receiving a steady income of some sort. In situations where there is one income per family, joint accounts make a lot more sense and I’d never dispute that. I just think it doesn’t have to be the only way.

So, do you plan to share bank accounts when you marry?
Why or why not?