Couples – to join or not to join?
10 May 2019
According to a recent ME Bank survey¹, Australian couples are less likely to hold joint bank accounts the younger they are. 71% of married and de-facto partners said they shared an account, but only 54% of the joiners were aged 18-24.
The biggest drivers for opening a joint transaction account were moving in together, purchasing a home or getting married. But what if you’re in a serious relationship and not yet ready to do any of those things? Here are the pros and cons:
Joint accounts build trust
Regardless of age, 72% of couples said joint bank accounts build trust and result in a closer relationship. A joint bank account will encourage you to have those conversations about spending that can help you better understand both your own and your partner’s goals and values.
Joint accounts help you stick to a budget
Around 64% of respondents said joint accounts help them be accountable to sticking to a budget or plan. When we know our spending is going to be ‘witnessed’, we’re more likely to give those whimsical purchases a second thought. Similarly, splitting the burden of regular bills can help you keep your wants separate to your needs (a vital aspect of drawing up a budget).
Joint accounts can make you more disciplined
Nearly half of the survey respondents said they were more cautious about withdrawing money from a joint account than their own account – resulting in reduced risk of excessive spending. By being transparent and accountable with spending (and knowing it will affect someone we care about), we’re more likely to tighten our belts, so to speak.
There’s nothing more likely to lead to arguments with couples than money. Relationships Australia have been running annual surveys on Australian couples and 7 out of 10 couples reported than money causes tension in relationships². For couples responding to the ME Bank survey who didn’t share an account, just under a third (30%) said merging money could lead to arguments.
In the survey, the couples who didn’t share an account said they wanted to keep their privacy and independence. 38% of ME Bank’s surveyed couples admitted to feeling ‘guilty’ when spending money from their joint account for their own purposes.
One way to counteract both these issues could be to have a joint account for bills and regular responsibilities, but to both keep your own personal bank accounts for discretionary or personal spending.