Just when is it the right time to pop that question -
"Honey, should we open a joint bank account together?"
Will there be an awkward silence in the room, or does “happily ever after” start with a trot to the bank?
ING Direct Australia’s online survey of bank users in March 2012 uncovered some surprising results.
For starters, twice as many men than women cited “being in love…” as a reason to open a joint bank account. Men were also more likely to initiate the “joint account” conversation.
ING Direct spokesperson, Lisa Claes, says “We were genuinely surprised by the results of the survey, there appears to be a clear difference between what men and women think when it comes to opening a joint bank account.”
Aside from using a joint account to help with saving and budgeting, a lot of users cited “having greater visibility of my partner’s financial activity” as a benefit.
Another ING spokesperson says “We know our everyday transaction account is popular as a joint bank account so we wanted to dig deeper to find out when and why couples open it and how it is used.”
How many have joint accounts?
The survey showed sixty seven percent of people surveyed have a joint account with their partners.
Many respondents opened a joint account with their partner within the first two years of their relationship but there were an equally high number of people who waited until they were married.
This is logical as many cited getting engaged or married as the most common reason to open a joint account. This is followed by “a shared savings goal” like a holiday or buying a home and moving in together.
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But the “one for all and all for one” theme was not always present throughout the survey.
One in five couples had not opened a joint account.
And what about those couples who do not have joint accounts…
Seventy percent of those without a joint account said remaining financially independent was the main reason not to open a joint account while the rest gave these two reasons: their partner could not control their spending and it would be too hard if they broke up.
The survey also showed women were more likely to cite financial independence as a reason for not wanting to open joint accounts.
In 2011, a Relationships Australia’s indicator report explained couples retail their individual accounts because they “haven’t gotten around to changing things” or it was a conscious lifestyle choice to be independent.
A small portion of people did not trust their partner with money or were too afraid to ask about opening a joint account.
The survey also revealed while most couples had knowledge of their partners’ accounts, one in five had an account they kept secret from their partner.
Men, who are more likely to have a secret account, tended to use their hidden funds on lifestyle expenses and to buy items their partner may not approve of.
Ryan Pereira, Neutral Bay, said: “Amongst my guy friends, many have a budget set by their wives. But their wives are not even the ones working."
Wowen, on the other hand, “were far more conservative with their secret accounts, using it as a place for extra saving instead of secret purchases,” says ING’s Lisa Claes.
This correlates with Relationships Australia’s research which showed while most partners have joint accounts because they share everything, a small percentage of the public still prefer a few secrets.
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