As a relationship becomes serious, at some point we have to have the grown-up conversation about finances, and whether or not to share them with each other. I know, grown up stuff makes me awkward too. But this is too important to squirm away from.
A joint bank account can be a very practical way of sharing your finances. But is also a big decision that can cause unnecessary stress if not thought through. Because money is a topic that often makes us uncomfortable, the danger is that we will not talk about it, or even think about it, as much as we should do.
We might agree to share our finances just to get that conversation over with. Or we might do it because we feel pressured and do not want to put a strain on the relationship. Of course, if we agree to something we are not happy with to protect the relationship, then ultimately the calm does not last. At some point in the future, resentment will flare up.
Perhaps the idea is for you and your partner to have a joint account to pay your rent and bill money into from your own, individual chequing accounts. This can be a great way of having shared ‘house’ money without loosing the independence you get with your own chequing account.
But if you are planning to treat your joint account as your main one, with your income being paid directly into it, then make sure you have really thought it through. So how can we avoid making a bad decision about this? Here are four things to consider before opening a joint bank account.
1. List the benefits and the risks
What might you gain from having a shared bank account? Will this bring you a sense of security? What could you stand to lose from sharing an account? Might this bring you more anxiety than peace of mind?
2. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
All things considered, in this day and age, is a shared bank account going to be of benefit to you overall? Are you sure of your choice?
3. Why do you really want to do this?
Now this might be a hard question to ask yourself, so take a deep breath and be as open as you can. Is a joint account actually the best solution for you, or are you feeling pressured at all? Just make sure you understand your motivation as this will give you a great deal of clarity and help you make the best decision for yourself.
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4. Do you have a contingency plan if your relationship should break down?
Always keep an emergency account of your own open. Some savings would be great, but do not underestimate the importance of your own chequing account. If the relationship were to end you would need unconditional access to your own resources.
Sharing important things such as a bank account can be make-or-break for a relationship. It can also be make-or-break for yourself too. Just remember that looking after your own needs is not selfish, it is essential. So plan for the best, but prepare for the worst, then you can’t go too far wrong.