Money management: What you need to know (and ask yourself) before opening a joint bank account with your partner | Economy and business

Sharing a bank account is probably one of the most frequent and defining stages in the life of a couple. Sooner or later, at some point in the relationship, there will be an opportunity or a need to combine savings to pay rent, bills, mortgages or just to turn the idea of ​​a joint project into something tangible like a checkbook. However, many questions remain unanswered around this crucial step, and the hesitation can already be seen in the statistics: according to a Bank of America study, 28% of couples made up of millennials (between 25 and 40 years old) choose to keep their finances separate, compared to 13% in their parents’ and grandparents’ age brackets. To shed light on the complexities of this financial dilemma, four experts answered the questions most frequently asked by clients.

First things first: what should I consider before opening a shared account with my partner?

The four experts agree that you have to ask yourself the following question before taking the plunge: “Why do I want it? “It’s important to establish your goals as a couple, as well as the actual point of opening the account. Also, it is necessary to establish economic rules and communicate the needs”, specifies Patricia Caro, financial coach. Susana Núñez, financial adviser, recommends doing a basic calculation of the fixed common expenses that the couple will have to assume, “to determine how much each is ready to contribute”. And Silvia Sanz, psychologist and sexologist, emphasizes the importance of communication as an essential tool to solve any problems that may arise. “Sometimes the difficulties in relationships aren’t so much about sharing an account, but about not negotiating first or discussing the differences between the two individuals.”

If I finally decide to share my savings, is it advisable to keep my personal account?

Núñez answers this question with an emphatic “yes”. “When a young couple sits down with me and tells me that they plan to open a joint account, I always recommend that they also keep their personal account open. Young couples today like to keep their finances separate. It’s quite commonplace for the younger generation.

I’m more of a saver, while my partner is a spender. Do I need to take steps to prevent account control from turning into a nightmare?

“A common ground must be determined. This means estimating what each partner will contribute to pay for rent, supplies, and food. Everything else is managed individually: the spender can spend and the saver has no problem with other expenses. However, when long-term relationship goals come into play, it is necessary to agree on how to achieve them, which means making commitments and agreeing on how to manage money,” says Maria Angeles. González, economist and financial coach for entrepreneurs. .

I don’t feel ready to open a joint account, but I’m afraid of giving the impression that I don’t trust the relationship. What can I do?

Whether you’re not ready to share your savings yet, or you’re the one offering to open the joint account, the first step is to talk about it openly and honestly, sharing arguments. “Respect must be the foundation of the relationship and good communication its guide; being able to ask for and express what you want is crucial for a relationship to work in a free and healthy way. Opening a joint account does not always mean moving forward, because it is also necessary to take into account the meaning that each gives to the money and the fact of sharing it. Evolution doesn’t always involve sharing what the other wants. It all depends on the needs of the moment and the philosophy of life of each person,” explains Sanz.

So when in the relationship should we consider opening an account together?

Each couple is different and it is impossible to set universal deadlines, but experts agree on the need to share a project first, whether they live together or not, in the medium or long term. “By then, the couple will have some experience communicating about money issues and the confidence to show their needs and share them with the other person,” Caro explains. “Sharing and managing our money with another person is a step that should only be taken when we are ready for it,” adds Susana Núñez, who suggests having a “firm approach” with your partner before going to the bank. .

Is it better if we contribute the same amount to avoid problems?

Maria Angeles González confirms that equity is one of the main concerns of couples who use her services, especially if there is a noticeable difference between their incomes. His solution, to prevent one of the partners pushing the other towards unrealistic expenses, is for each partner to contribute proportionally to his income. “For example, if one of them earns $2,000, he can spend 30% on housing, so $600. If the other partner’s income was $1,000, 30% would be $300. Between them, they can pay $900 in rent while making a financial effort to match their own income.

If a dispute arises over the management and control of the account, can this lead to a breakdown in our relationship?

“Well, it depends on the foundations and the values ​​of the relationship, explains the specialist in couples therapy. “If the priorities are shared and there is trust in the financial management, this should not be a problem. Ultimately, any difference that arises in how to manage a bank account is an opportunity to deal with a problem like any other that may arise in the relationship.

Why are young people more opposed to account sharing than their parents and grandparents?

“Family structure has evolved and millennials have other life goals. If they have a partner, most view the relationship from a more individualistic perspective. They may be living together, but everyone is financially independent”, confirms Patricia Caro. Silvia Sanz agrees with this change of expectation regarding her romantic future: “They feel that everything is more finished, and they are a more individualistic generation, where growth, evolution, and advancement in a relationship don’t always happen through signals. like sharing an account, putting labels on the relationship, having to buy a home together, or starting a family.

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