Are you a newlywed or thinking of joining your finances together with your significant other? Instead of jumping in head first, you should do your research. Here are some tips to consider when deciding how to join your accounts. Remember both parties need to communicate, decide on a joint or individual account, or both, and ask about online banking.
Talk openly and honestly about finances with your spouse so you can begin to understand how they handle money. Both parties involved need to decide how they will share the task of managing their money and expenses. Take into consideration each other’s strengths and weaknesses; maybe one of you is more organized with money and should be in charge of paying the bills. Agree on a budget to plan for everyday expenses and reach long-term goals together. Set some ground rules, such as which types of expenses you need to decide on together, and how much either of you can spend without consulting the other party.
Then, you must decide if a joint account or individual accounts works best for you. If you are having troubles deciding if joint, individual, or both is best you are not alone. Many couples open joint accounts and pay all their expenses jointly. Other couples choose to have one joint account for shared expenses such as housing payments, and separate individual accounts for personal items such as clothing. Still others prefer to keep individual accounts, and share the bill paying duties. If you do choose joint accounts this means shared responsibilities. Either of you can withdraw or transfer funds, and make payments. If one of you overdraws the account or bounces a check, both of you are liable. Each person will need the appropriate information and identification with him or her when applying for a joint account. This includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license or other ID numbers, and employment information. If you apply in person, you will both need to sign the application.
For joint checking accounts, and savings accounts with check-writing privileges, you get one checkbook. You can both access the account, and any other accounts you have, through online banking. Banks will have each of you choose your own username and password, so you and your spouse will have access to your joint accounts, and you alone will have access to your individual accounts. You can view account balances and history, receive your bank statements online, transfer money into your joint account, set up services, and more.
Remember, there is not a “correct” way to join finances with another person, but it is important to make the best decision for you. This decision will come with communicating and compromising on the best option to manage your money together now and in the future.
Ronika Ledesma Peer Counselor II Powercat Financial Counseling www.k-state.edu/pfc