For and against married couples getting a joint bank account
Financial management can make or break the strongest relationships – and ideally, this is an issue that should be tackled before you walk down the aisle. However, one of the best ways to show trust in your partner and that you’re on the same track is to open a joint bank or savings account.
The joint bank account rose in popularity during the 1970s when almost half of all couples had one when they married. The reason for its soaring popularity was largely due to the fact that many women were giving up their jobs to raise a family, so there was only one salary coming in. Obviously, with growing female financial independence this idea now seems as outdated as your grandmother’s twin set and pearls.
But having a joint bank account still holds important advantages that are just as valid for today’s modern couples. The main benefit of joint bank accounts is the convenience they offer. Instead of taking it turns to buy groceries, having a joint pool of money for living expenses saves a lot of unnecessary hassle.
Pooling your finances into one joint account also makes a lot of sense for those on a low income who often use the overdraft facility on their bank account to pay for everyday expenses. By combining two incomes in a joint account you may be able to cut down on excessive overdraft charges.
And while there’s nothing to stop you having separate accounts as well as a joint account, some financial advisers think holding everything jointly is the best way. Philippa Gee at Torquil Clark says: “If you are buying a house together or getting married you are coming together in partnership, and sharing your money is an important part of that.”
The last few decades have seen a surge in the independent management of money, stemming largely from growing female employment and a greater cultural emphasis on individualism.
These days there are huge advantages to keeping your financial independence, whether you’re married or not.
For instance, both partners will have built up long credit histories and this may contain some periods of poor financial management they’d rather forget. While credit agencies no longer link people by name or address, they will draw links between people with a joint financial arrangement, such as a bank account.
Other potential problems in the joint account arrangement occur due to differing styles of money management. For example, when one half of the partnership likes to save, while the other is a spendaholic.
When you set up a joint bank account, both of you accept joint liability, so if your partner makes a large purchase without there being enough money in the account, you’ll be held jointly responsible for the debt incurred. This can pose real problems if it’s impossible to pay off these debts, leading both partners into bankruptcy in the worst case scenario.
There are also some legal complications if you have a joint account when it comes to inheritance. For instance, imagine you marry someone when you already have a child with someone else. Should you die, you may wish to leave your money to your child rather than your new spouse. However, preference will be given to the co-signatory on your joint account – which can clearly lead to problems.
Stick to separate accounts – it’s simpler, and asserts your individuality from day one.