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Published: Mar 13, 2024 6 min read
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Rangely García for Money

This is an excerpt from Dollar Scholar, the Money newsletter where news editor Julia Glum teaches you the modern money lessons you NEED to know. Don't miss the next issue! Sign up at money.com/subscribe and join our community of 160,000+ Scholars.


My girlfriends and I share everything: appetizers, clothes, opinions about which Taylor Swift rerecord is dropping next (it’s gotta be reputation). So why not share our bank accounts?

This question is brought to you by a video I saw on TikTok recently with the on-screen title “All my money is shared with my best friend 💸.” The user, Caitlin Emiko, goes on to explain that for the past year, she has split her salary with her (platonic) pal: “Anything I make, she gets, and anything she makes, I get, as well,” she adds. Big if true.

Honestly, when I first saw the clip, I recoiled. I know longtime married couples who still don’t have joint bank accounts, so taking that step with a mere friend seemed outrageous to me. But then I began thinking about how tedious it is to Venmo my roommate every time we pay rent, order DoorDash or go on a mid-day Starbucks run.

Wait, does this idea have legs?

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Is it a good idea to share a bank account with your BFF?

According to Jordan Gilberti, senior lead planner at financial planning firm Facet, there are definitely some pros and cons.

On one hand, it’s convenient and can start setting me up for the future, assuming I’ll eventually combine my finances with a romantic partner. If my friend is trustworthy, he says, it’s probably not that different from having a joint account with a parent or sibling (which is relatively common). It can be good practice, getting me in the groove of sharing money before it’s crunch time.

It could also help me be a smarter spender. Having someone else on my bank account, Gilberti says, can give me a built-in accountability partner, which can keep my splurging in check.

“Every purchase you make will be seen by another set of eyes, and you might think twice before going on that big shopping spree,” he says.

Alas, that’s… pretty much it for the "pro" column. And there are a LOT of potential cons that come with opening a joint account with a friend.

The first is that there’s no guarantee that my BFF will act right once she has total access to my cash, according to Michelle Winterfield, co-founder of the expense-splitting app Tandem. Friend breakups happen all the time, and if things go south she could simply drain the account and leave.

Even if I trust my friend not to bankrupt me after a fight, there’s a good chance that we’re not 100% aligned on our financial habits.

Say my friend is a bigger spender than I am — if she buys a designer bag and uses more of what I consider to be “our money” than I think is fair, it could lead to issues. Or say that her salary outpaces mine — I could start secretly thinking that I don’t “deserve” to spend as much as she does because I’m not able to contribute on her level.

See how this gets really tricky, really fast?

“We all have our own money styles, and getting aligned with another individual on how to spend your money can be extremely difficult,” Gilberti says.

If I’m set on trying this, though, there are responsible ways I can dip my toes into the water. Gilberti suggests doing an experiment where we create an account that’s specifically earmarked for a joint goal, like a trip that we’ve decided we want to take together next year. If everything goes well, then we can expand into using the account for day-to-day stuff.

He says I’ll need to set some strict boundaries with my friend. How much are we each going to contribute, and at what frequency? What are we allowed to use the money for? Can we set budgets for how much we can spend in each category?

Winterfield says I could open a joint account but only deposit some of my salary. That way, if something does go wrong, I still control the majority of my money.

“You should have some sense of independence, always,” she says.

The bottom line

The cons of opening a joint bank account with my BFF probably outweigh the pros because we have different financial upbringings, goals and habits.

“The safest bet is to keep the bulk of your cash, including your emergency fund, in a separate bucket for only yourself,” Gilberti says.

More from Money:

Where Should I Keep My Emergency Fund?

Will I Spend Less if I Force Myself to Use Cash?

Is It Ever OK to Be Emotional With Money?

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