It is apt to begin this article with some quotes on marriage and money. These quotes drive home the importance of money in a relationship, and why it is necessary for a couple to consider carefully if they should open a joint account, as well as the rules of engagement if they go ahead to operate a joint account.
“What’s the most common argument among married couples? Educated guesses might name sex, money, or kids. Survey says: money, hands down. Research says: that’s about right. For richer or poorer, money is a key spark in couple conflict. It seems common sense to say that paper currency and coins are not themselves the root of the troubles, but it’s the underlying habits and attitudes, or “habitudes,” that drive how those financial instruments are used, or misused, spent or saved. And many people are utterly unaware of their habitudes, attitudes they internalised during the growing-up years: for one, money may represent security, for another it may be about control, and for another, money is the key to power, or freedom.” James and Audora Burg, from the Sturgis Journal article “Marriage Matters: Copping a ‘Habitude’”
“Money may be an inanimate object, but we attach great emotional significance to it. Money only becomes our friend if we as a couple learn to partner around the decisions related to money. One of the prerequisites for partnering in the matter of money is an understanding of the meaning of money to each of us.” Dr. David Stoop and Dr. Jan Stoop, from the book, “The Complete Marriage Book”
A married couple have to reach an understanding on managing their finances. Why?
- “Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages.” – Larry Burkett, financial author
- Money and money fights are the #1 cause of divorce, and the main area of disagreement among couples.
- Arguments over money are quite normal in marriages. However, couples should make sure that money is not the “last straw” that leads to the breakup of their marriage. If money is a real problem area for them, they should communicate openly and honestly, taking on board each other’s views about the subject and agree on a common ground.
Getting married could necessitate the opening a joint bank account to better manage finances. The reason for opening the joint account should be clear to both parties. A couple may open a joint account for several reasons:
- To take advantage of the conveniences a joint account offers.
- To be open and transparent in money matters in your relationship.
- To save some money for a set goal.
- As a sign that you are now one and want to do things as one.
- To keep a grip on financial obligations related to the joint responsibilities in the marriage, and make payments into the account as agreed between the two of them.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of running a joint bank account?
- Individual and joint accounts are similar in many ways.
- You can open a joint account at a local bank branch of your choice.
- However, with a joint account signatory to the account can deposit or withdraw money as if it were an individual account.
- The account holders can also write cheques to transfer monies, make payments online or offline, and use the accounts debit and credit cards individually.
- Irrespective of the source of the deposit in a joint account, the signatories to the account are entitled to the money in the account and can legally spend it as they deem fit without reference to the other signatory.
- A joint account holder’s debt could impact the other account signatory, because every joint account holder has equal rights to the money. Creditors can go after the money in a joint account if they sue one of the account holders, thus the money in the account is at risk if one person gets sued.
For married couples, communication and trust are very important if they are to manage their joint account without friction. Both partners should take decisions jointly on what goes on with the account to avoid it being overdrawn or have low balances, leading to bank charges on the account. Couples should be on the same page on how the monies in their joint account should be applied. It may not be a bad idea to agree to seek the other partner’s approval before spending over a certain amount from the account.
Married couples contemplating a joint account should consider its pros and cons before proceeding. Where the couples are open and communicate honestly with one another with respect to finances, running a joint account may help to strengthen the bond between them. This said, it is also important that couples have a clear understanding of the reason behind the account and how the monies deposited by each partner into the joint account will be utilised. This will ensure that arguments and mismanagement of the funds held in the account are avoided.