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Banking

What to know before you open a joint account

23 May 2019

We surveyed over 1,500 Australians in relationships about their money habits, which led us to an important finding: when it comes to joining your finances and bank accounts, communication is key.

There were some interesting results, which includes:

  • Eight in ten couples have joint finances.
  • Of these, 55 per cent say they share the responsibility for managing joint finances with their partner.
  • 40 per cent say they themselves are mainly responsible and only 5 per cent say their partner is mainly responsible, suggesting a misconception around the distribution of responsibility in the couple.
  • One in five think their partner lives beyond their means and say they have opposing views about how money should be managed.

So, a joint bank account: is it right for you? When’s the right time to open one? And how should it be managed? In every relationship, the circumstances, and management of finances are different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But there are steps you can consider that may make it easier to join your finances with your significant other; that is, other than agreeing on what to order for Sunday-night takeaway!

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1. Ask yourself if a joint account is right for you

Talking to yourself about whether joint finances are for you could be a good first step. Ask yourself if you and your partner are ready? Is it right for you? How would you like to see finances managed between you and someone else?

2. Discuss money with your partner

Next, talk things over with your partner. Chat over breakfast, while walking the dog, or even during the ad-break of your favourite show.  Set aside some time to chat about your expenses, money habits, and goals. 

It’s important to talk openly. It’s also vital to listen to your partner. 20 per cent of couples have opposing views around their partner’s spending habits, so this could be your chance to question each other’s spending habits. Do they really need eight different magazine subscriptions? Or do you need to update your smartphone every time a new model is released.

You might have both mutual and individual goals. Maybe you’re saving towards a house deposit together, but your partner is also putting aside funds for a trip with friends, while you’re looking to upgrade your car. No matter the situation, discuss how it can work, and what you can and can’t commit to. 

As a conversation starter, why not take this quiz to determine your Money Profiles?

3. Plan how you will manage your money together

After getting an idea of each other’s spending needs and areas for improvement, chat about whether a joint bank account is right for you. Whether you’re saving to renovate your home, planning for a family, or looking to upgrade your car – money is always a big factor. 

Perhaps you’re not worried about joint saving, but you want to combine your everyday expenses (think household bills, rent, groceries, petrol, and even your streaming account). There are plenty of different account types, so be sure to pick one that is right for you, and plan how and when you’ll use it.

How couples share expenses

Another thing to consider is whether you and your partner will contribute to a joint account equally or relative to your incomes.

Couples who have been together for over 20 years are most likely to split their expenses 50/50, regardless of income (37 per cent). In the lower age brackets (less than five years, five-10 years and 10-20 years), the person who earns more contributing more is the most common ways expenses are split. Talking to yourself about whether joint finances are for you could be a good first step. Ask yourself if you and your partner are ready? Is it right for you? How would you like to see finances managed between you and someone else?

3. Manage your finances as a couple

There appears to be plenty of disagreement when it comes to taking responsibility for managing finances. 55 per cent say they share the responsibility for managing these finances with their partner. Meanwhile, 40 per cent say they themselves are mainly responsible and only 5 per cent say their partner is mainly responsible. There is nothing wrong with one person taking charge of your finances if that has been agreed upon between the two of you. Planning with your partner can be important ensuring that you both stick to your individual and joint duties and goals.  

It is also a good idea to think about how you want to access the account. While this may depend on the account that you choose, most accounts allow individual access without your partner’s consent. If this isn’t the way you want to set your account up, you might need to mention this when opening the account.

Don’t forget there is risk with joint accounts. It gives someone else access to your funds. Make sure you’re ready to allow this control to someone you trust.

4. Decide whether you keep your own account

You’ll also need to decide whether you keep your own personal account as well as opening a joint account. It depends on how you want to manage finances, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting some financial independence while also sharing a bank account with a loved one. 

5. Save money, spend & enjoy

If you’ve chosen a joint bank account, then it’s your responsibility to stick to your plan, as it affects the both of you. If something changes, or you’re struggling to meet the commitments you made, be open and honest with your partner! You can always go back to the drawing board and readjust.

Save the disagreements for picking which movie to watch on Friday night! Equipped with these tips, you and your partner can enjoy an argument-free joint spending or saving experience.

*All figures are based on the results of 1,527 results to the Valentine’s Day Survey (February 2019). Before your settlement date, you’llneed to transfer your remaining deposit to your conveyancer. They will then draw the amount from their trust account for settlement.

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Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Deposit Products are issued by Suncorp-Metway Limited ("Suncorp Bank") ABN 66 010 831722 AFSL No 229882. Please read the Product Information Document for Personal Deposit Accounts before opening an account. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available upon request.

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