A true partnership between people is the idea of two lives becoming one, however, merging your financial lives can be complicated and lead to relationship strain. Financial decisions can have a huge impact on your relationship, and whether you share money in a joint account or keep your money separate is a very personal decision. In this Ameris Bank article, explore the benefits and considerations of having joint bank accounts so that you can determine early on which might be right for your relationship.
Benefits of Joint Accounts for Couples
Opening a joint savings account or checking account is a natural step for newly married couples or those in a long-term, serious relationship. A joint bank account is extremely convenient in many relationships and has three clear advantages:
1. Simplifying your budget
Joint bank accounts make it easy to share funds for combined expenses, from housing to monthly utility costs. You don’t need permissions or multiple passcodes, and each partner can work with the same pool of money to deposit or withdraw as needed. With a joint bank account, budgeting for two becomes extremely straight-forward, as you can clearly see how much money you have, where you’re spending most and how much you’re saving. Rather than hunting down separate bank statements and credit card bills, it’s easy to pinpoint exactly which areas you might want to improve and how to put away money for future purchases.
2. Lightening up responsibilities
Another benefit joint accounts can bring to relationships is the ability to work as a team and make every day financial decisions together. If you have a joint account with your partner, you already have open communication and visibility into to who’s spending what, plus you’ll be able to review exact spending in the Online Banking platform. You may decide to divide financial duties, with one partner monitoring account balances and the other paying bills, or another approach based on partner preference and collective goals. This gives each partner a role and the ability to understand each other’s financial habits, plus it makes standard money management a faster and easier chore.
3. Protect yourself legally
Life is unpredictable, and in the extremely unfortunate event that a spouse or partner passes away, joint accounts can minimize financial hardships in an already difficult time. In certain states like FL, NC, TN and VA, there is an arrangement known as “tenants by the entirety” which gives the living partner in the joint account the ability to continue having access to the combined funds. In contrast, in other states like GA, MD and SC, if you did not have a joint account and were not listed as a beneficiary, you would have to settle the case in court to be able to claim your partner’s money.
Considerations when using a Joint Bank Accounts
Choosing to have a joint bank account is not always a simple decision. The more you understand your options, the easier it will be to determine if a joint account is right for your relationship. Ameris Bank has outlined some considerations for couples thinking about joint bank accounts.
1. Unfair payments
While joint accounts combine your and your partner’s savings, don’t forget it will do the same with your individual debts. Student loans, parking tickets and even late payments can all be pushed to you, even if they originally belonged to your partner. If you personally have no debt or simply just want to focus on your own finances, combining accounts can quickly cause relationship tension.
2. Breaking up is always a possibility
Separation, divorce or calling it quits on your non-marital relationship can make your financial life even more complicated if you have joint bank accounts. When you combine accounts, both partners have full access to all funds, allowing either person to make withdrawals – without the consent of the other person and regardless of who is adding more to the account. This may make you feel uneasy if you are unsure about your future together or are concerned with protecting your own assets. With separate accounts, you and your partner are able to maintain a level of protection and privacy that may be important given your unique perspective and circumstances.
3. Different spending habits
Not everyone has the same spending habits. With joint accounts there are no more financial secrets. Each of your spending and saving habits will quickly become evident through your combined payment histories and bank statements. This can lead to arguments regarding one partner spending more than the other, since it now affects both partners’ savings. In addition to this, the element of surprise in your relationship for special occasions is more complicated, as all money spent on presents or personal items are technically visible to each other.
It’s important when entering into a serious relationship to have these financial discussions openly, considering both the pros and cons of having joint accounts. At Ameris Bank, we can talk to you more about what might be best for your relationship, and we can always make account adjustments down the road as your relationship grows and changes. Contact us today.
Published January 2024
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.