There’s no way around it. Talking about money is awkward for couples – especially newlyweds. Chatting about how to open and manage a joint bank account is even touchier. While these are probably conversations you’d like to avoid, skipping them will only result in more complicated conversations in your relationship down the road. Instead, get the money stuff out of the way now so you can get back to talking about something more fun, like which restaurant to try this weekend, or what TV show you should watch together next season.
Below we’ve highlighted some topics to discuss with your partner that will help set you on the path for financial stability.
The first thing to do is to ask yourselves why you want the account. Outline your reasoning behind setting up the joint account and decide why it’s a better option than separate accounts. Understand that in the eyes of the law the money in that account belongs equally to both of you and so individually you have full access to 100% of the available funds. You’re also equally responsible for things like maintaining the right balance to avoid overdraft fees and making sure that automatic payments never exceed the amount of available money.
One option to consider is opening one joint account for things like bills and shared purchases while maintaining separate accounts for individual spending. This option will provide you with financial independence, but will still allow you the simplicity of having a joint account to draw from as a couple. Decide ahead of time which purchases should be made out of the joint account. Things like bills, cleaning supplies, and grocery purchases easily fall into qualifying purchases, but if you have a potential purchase that you aren’t sure about, have a chat about it before buying to decide ahead of time to decide whether it should be a joint or separate purchase.
Online banking tools can be effective ways to gain access to your finances quickly and easily from your computer or mobile device1. You can also set up alerts to notify you when balances are below or above a specified amount or when payments are due. Most accounts offer automatic bill pay options that you can set up online. Keep in mind that if you’re going to go this route you and your partner must take extra care to pay attention to the money going into and out of the account. Agree that both of you will check in regularly to ensure there is enough money to make the purchases you need before doing so.
Request to have the account set up so that both parties’ signatures are required anytime a withdrawal is made through a teller to ensure you aren’t taken off guard if major changes are made to the account.
While not a requirement for opening a joint checking account, having a joint savings account is a great way for you and your partner to make plans together, and it can also be used as a safety measure to catch accidental overdrafts.
While there is no way to predict the outcome of a major financial decision before it’s made, it is possible to create safety buffers for yourself and your partner to stay on top of your finances. It’s always a good idea to keep your banker informed about your plans so they can help guide you in making financial decisions that will benefit you and your relationship the most. Call Citizens Bank today and speak with a dedicated member of our team about the requirements for opening a joint checking account.
1Wireless carrier, text and /or data charges may apply.