Wealth Management

Do you have a joint account? Here’s what that says about your relationship

Some say money is the root of all evil; it can also be the secret to a happy marriage.

Co-mingling accounts may lead to less frequent fights about money, according to a report by LendingTree. Of those who have at least a joint account, only 12% said financial issues caused problems with their partner, compared to 15% of those who don’t have a shared account.

Further, 58% of those who share at least one bank account said they stayed together after a financial argument, compared to only 47% of those who don’t have a shared account.

“If you want your marriage and relationship to survive, at least get a joint account,” said Stacy Francis, a certified financial planner and president and CEO of Francis Financial in New York.

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Of course, there can be varying degrees of financial entanglements. While most experts recommend some variation of having “yours, mine and ours,” completely combining finances is steadily becoming less common.

According to a recent report by Bankrate, 39% of couples who are married or living together completely combine their finances, while 38% have a mix of joint and separate accounts and 24% keep finances completely separate.

When broken down by generation, baby boomers are the most likely to rely just on a joint account, according to Bankrate’s survey of the more than 2,200 adults.

Alternatively, Gen Zers, or those between the ages of 18 and 27, are the most likely to keep their money completely separate from their partner, due, in part, to managing higher student loan balances among other financial constraints.

‘A marriage is also an economic union’

Francis, who is also a member of CNBC’s Financial Advisor Council, says she has witnessed this in her own practice, as well, particularly with more young adults choosing to keep their finances separate — “we just didn’t see that 40 years ago.”

Francis advises her clients to open a shared account to cover joint expenses or save for future plans. “Essentially what it does is create financial unity, they are working together toward joint goals,” she said.

“A marriage is also an economic union and keeping your finances 100% separate doesn’t really fit with that definition,” Francis said.

Make a money date

Experts say there’s generally not a right or wrong way for couples to manage their assets — as long as they are on the same page.

“Whatever you decide, make sure you and your partner agree upon the framework,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “Aim to schedule occasional money dates to check in on your progress toward short- and long-term financial goals.”

Francis also recommends “financial date nights” at least once a month. “Having open and honest conversations about money is absolutely fundamental to a long-term happy and healthy marriage.”

Money dates are great — just not on Valentine’s Day, advises Douglas and Heather Boneparth of The Joint Account, a money newsletter for couples. Douglas Boneparth is also a member of CNBC’s FA Council and president and founder of Bone Fide Wealth, a wealth management firm based in New York.

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