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Should we have a joint account?

Friday, Jan 15, 2016

Should we have a joint account?

Many couples have lived all their life with their own money and own income. When we marry we are now joined legally. This means all income, as well as debts, are equally shared. It does not matter who earns what, the income pool is now shared equally, as is the debt pool.

When we first realise all our money is joined equally it can be rather confronting. We have a partner who is permitted, and usually wants, to see exactly what our financial position is. Me is now a We and this is new for many couples. Finance should be transparent in our relationship.

Financial friction is one of the main causes of conflict and arguments within a relationship. It occurs when the couple have not understood or learnt about the sharing of finance in the relationship. It occurs when secrecy is involved and either partner is not open or honest with the other.

Is it really a joint relationship or marriage when he pays for rent / mortgage, electricity, car insurance and she pays for rates, holidays, family gifts, food. Then who pays when you order pizza or have a night out together? Many of these issues present as a problem especially if one person is short that month and can’t afford the electricity account because they overspent on their mobile phone account. Asking your partner for money can be humiliating and is so unnecessary. Their money is your money and vice versa.

A joint bank account where weekly pay goes into the account and all outgoing come out of the account often works best. Both people can then see exactly what is going in and what is being spent. I do suggest each member keep a set amount of money in his or her own personal bank account. Even $50 – $100 each week may be sufficient and this way they can each individually spend their money on what they want or even purchase that surprise gift for their partner without the other knowing. It is also a good fall back in case the relationship does not work out so both parties have money to leave if necessary.

It is a good idea, as long as partners know some money is being placed into the account. Keeping money for ‘a rainy day’ may simply be how the person was raised, to ensure they have a safety net.

If one partner is not great with money or has a spending problem, then it can be advantageous to keep an eye on the joint account to ensure the outgoings are for agreed use.

A marriage or committed relationship involves change and adaption; finance is part of this new committed life.

When planning a family our financial situation is likely to change. Financial change should be discussed during pregnancy and before baby arrives. It is often the female who stops work for a while to have and to raise their baby, this however has no impact on the money ownership. Regardless of who is working and bringing in the income, it is owned equally by both partners. Remember that all income is jointly owned if in a defacto or married relationship. If one partner is receiving government support income or money for the baby, then this also goes into the same pool. If one partner is not working for a while or has stopped to have the baby, it is natural when income is reduced that both partners not spend the same amount on themselves until such time as the financial situation can afford it.

It is vital for all woman and men to understand the income belongs to both equally regardless of whose name is actually on the pay slip. The days of the woman receiving ‘house keeping’ money should be buried along with the ark.

or on the bank account.

Keeping totally separate accounts is secretive and individual. When we marry, Me becomes a We, and when this is understood it is easier and mutually beneficial. All financial matters should be completely transparent.

By keeping individual money and accounts it says this is mine; I own it, when in fact they no longer own it individually, it is jointly owned, as it should be in a marriage. Transparency in your finances is imperative to ensure full honesty and trust.