When couples get married, one of the big questions that usually arises is whether they should pool their money together in one account. A joint bank account can be a good idea for couples in different ways.
For one, it is convenient for couples who share expenses. But what if one party is a bigger spender than the other? Is having a joint account really a good idea? Or is it a bad idea that can even lead to a strain on the relationship?
What Is A Joint Bank Account
A Joint Bank Account works like a standard bank account except that two or more people have access to it. Both owners of the account, called joint holders, can withdraw funds with or without the other’s permission.
Regardless of how much money one puts in, the account holders may spend it any way they can, give it away, or transfer funds to anyone.
Joint accounts are ideal for parents and teenagers, adults assisting their parents, business partners, roommates, and most especially couples.
Couples who are now sharing their household expenses may find it convenient to pool their money into a single account. Before getting into the advantages and disadvantages of a joint bank account, here’s how and what you need to open one.
How To Open A Joint Bank Account
Opening a joint bank account has a similar process to opening an individual account. You only need to select the joint account option or inform the bank you are enrolling a joint bank account.
Before they process your request, your bank should discuss with you the rights and responsibilities involved in opening the account. In most cases, the bank will ask you to sign a mandate stating that both of you have access, and any other rules you would like to impose.
Most banks will require almost a similar list of documents but to give you an idea, here are two examples:
For Bank of America Joint Account, you need to have at least the following information prepared: social security number, residential address, email address, and co-applicant’s personal information. You will also need to provide your bank account details for the opening deposit.
For Chase Joint Account, you will need an official identification, proof of residency, social security card, and initial deposit.
Benefits & Advantages
MONEY MANAGEMENT is the best aspect or advantage of joining your account. You can easily see how much both of you are spending on the household. See our article on how to make budgeting easy as pie.
CONVENIENCE as joint accounts can be a flexible way to manage shared expenses such as rent, utilities, and food. You no longer need to transfer money back and forth between your accounts, or discuss who will pay for dinner this time.
TEAMWORK ON SAVING for big ticket items. Having one account can help you keep track on mutual savings. When you’re saving for a new home, making a big purchase, or planning to travel, you can make regular deposits into the account. Working towards a common goal may make it feel easier when both of you are working together to achieve it.
TRANSPARENCY. With account activity visible to both of you, each partner will have less temptation to overspend or make purchases in secret.
ADDED PERKS. Having a joint bank account makes both of you eligible to perks that you otherwise can’t access as an individual account holder.
EQUAL OWNERSHIP can be a good thing if own earn more than the other partner and you have agreed that you still have access to each other’s money
ACCESS TO FUNDS. Finally, if one account holder passes away, the other won’t need documents to prove before they can claim the money on the account.
Risks & Disadvantages
WHEN THINGS GO SOUR. The consequences of having a shared account can reach far beyond what couples expect. One of the top reasons for divorce is financial problems in the relationship. If you have a joint account when things go sour, it will be difficult for you to split your finances especially when it turns into an acrimonious relationship.
PRIVACY ISSUES. One partner may not be comfortable in letting the other know about their expenses especially if they are still giving support to family and they have not entirely agreed on it. In other cases, they could still pay for a debt and they don’t want to let their partner worry more about it.
DIFFERENT PLACES FINANCIALLY. Maybe one is carrying a lot of debt or has mismanaged money in the past. Another reason could also be different income.
DIFFERENT SPENDING HABITS. It’s not smart to open a joint account if you and your partner have different spending habits. Since both of you can access the funds without the permission of each other, it could be unfair when one is trying to live frugally, and the other finds joy in shopping or eating in expensive restaurants.
How To Close A Joint Bank Account
When the relationship breaks down, the only best option is to close the account. The problem is, both parties should agree on it before the bank closes the account. The bank will need the joint holders to agree in writing.
You can either divide the money between you, or change the account into one name. In an acrimonious relationship, the bank will freeze the account until both of you have a clear agreement on how to split the money. Without a clear agreement, the issue might lead to court.
Is It A Good Idea Or A Bad One?
So we’re down to whether a joint bank account is a good idea or a bad decision to make as a couples. As you get to know the advantages and disadvantages of having a joint bank account, you must have already realized that it’s a big commitment that carries several risks, and involves trust in your partner.
In any aspect of a relationship, communication is always key. Joint accounts are a good idea when couples can talk it out and discuss how they will tackle their financial issues. But it’s a bad decision if they find it hard to agree on even the little things.
When you finally decide to open a joint account, make sure you sit down, discuss each other’s spending habits, have a strategy for your finances, and have a plan should things go haywire.