Single, Joint Accounts or Both? How New Couples Should Bank

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For many, merging lives via marriage or other long-term commitment means merging everything, bank accounts included. Then again, others prefer the "his, hers and ours" approach. Which is best?

It turns out that many couples prefer to keep independent checking, savings and money market accounts even if they use joint ones for things they share, including mortgage payments and other household expenses. 

A TD Bank survey of 1,000 couples that had joint bank accounts found 42% also maintained individual accounts. Among those with both, 38% cited a desire for independence as a top reason. That was more pronounced among women, with 43% citing independence versus 34% of men.

Some 20% said individual accounts ensured they had money available for emergencies and personal spending, while 16% citied convenience for such things as budgeting and bill paying. Few, it appeared, use individual accounts to hide spending from partners, as only 7% said privacy was a top goal.

OK, so that's what many do, but what should they do?

Holding big assets jointly, such as home or investment accounts, can involve some complex issues, especially if the co-owners are not married. But when it comes to simple banking, such as checking accounts for routine spending and expenses, any system is fine if both partners are comfortable with it. That assumes the account balances are modest -- enough, for example, to get through the month. So if one were to go on a gambling spree, it wouldn't be all that devastating to the other.

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