5 Questions to Ask Before You Open a Joint Bank Account

A joint bank account can help you manage shared funds with ease and efficiency.

1. What is a joint bank account and how does it work?

You can open a joint bank account with anyone who shares financial needs or tasks with you: a roommate, significant other, or even a group of people. Each person can deposit and withdraw money and complete other banking tasks just as you would with an individual account. There are several types of joint accounts, each with its own requirements for how to access funds.

2. Who might find a joint account useful?

If you share financial tasks and goals with someone, a joint bank account can help you save money, pay expenses and track everything in one place.

  • Married couples - Whether you're newlyweds or you've been married a few years, a joint account can help you pay household costs and build your savings.
  • Adult children of aging parents - As you're getting older, so are your parents. Set up a joint account with them now to help take care of their finances when the time comes.
  • Parents and children - As a parent, you can open an account with your child to teach them how to save money
  • Roommates - You don't have to be married or related to share a bank account. If you have a roommate, you can use a joint account to pay rent and other living expenses.
  • Business partners - If you're starting a business with a partner, you can open an account with your partner to help keep track of business finances.

3. How can having a joint account help you?

A joint account is a simple way for you to reach financial goals you share with others.

  • Once you set up a joint account, you and the other account owner(s) can easily make deposits and withdrawals.
  • All account owners have the same access to the account.
  • When you and your spouse, business partner, family member or roommate combine your savings in a joint account, the total may be enough to earn a higher interest rate.
  • A joint account gives you a reason to talk about finances with the other account owner(s), which can be helpful for managing money together.
  • If you're saving for large expenses, like a vacation or real estate purchase, combining assets with someone can help you reach your goals sooner.

4. Are there benefits to keeping separate accounts?

While sharing a joint bank account can make it easier to plan and pay for expenses, there are some distinct benefits to having a separate bank account. 

  • Having your own account gives you some financial independence so you can pay or save for things on your own.
  • A separate account protects your money from being affected by any outstanding debt your partner(s) may have.
  • You won't have to pay anyone else's overdraft or account fees.
  • If you happen to divorce or have to close your business, separating your assets is easier with separate accounts.
  • Keeping emergency savings separate from other savings helps guarantee your emergency money will be there when you need it.

5. How can you get the most out of a joint bank account?

Before you open a joint account with anyone, there are a few steps you can take to help everything go as smoothly as possible.

  • The most important step is making sure the other potential account owner has good financial habits. If this person has a history of bad financial decisions, it's better to know before agreeing to open an account with them.
  • Once you know you're comfortable with your partner's financial habits, make sure you both agree to always communicate openly and honestly about all financial decisions. This will help you avoid confusion once you start using the account.
  • Work together with the other account owner to write down some ground rules about how you'll each use the account. 
  • You may find it helpful to create and stick to a budget so there are no unexpected expenses.
  • Finally, think about opening your own separate account so you can pay and save for your individual expenses.

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