A few decades ago, couples combined their net worth as soon as they traded I do's. Today, it's not as simple: Research shows that roughly half of married people have individual accounts. "Having a personal account is useful for day-to-day spending," says Jon Stein, the founder and CEO of Betterment, an investment site. "But you need a joint checking account for household expenses, such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, and groceries." Some couples choose to contribute an equal percentage of their income to it (each person gives, say, 60 percent of her paycheck), while others prefer to deposit a flat sum each month. "My wife and I decided to have our salaries go directly into our joint account," says Stein, a newlywed himself. "And we put a fixed amount into our personal ones."
For big-ticket items, like a down payment, vacation, or new car, set up a joint savings or investment account. "Use direct deposit to distribute a portion of your paycheck," advises Bell. "If you don't see it, you won't be tempted to spend it."