Opening a joint bank account strengthens the bond between cohabiting partners: that is the finding of research carried out for ABN AMRO by the Dutch National Institute for Family Finance Information (Nibud). Having a joint account reduces the disagreements between partners about money and means there are fewer financial worries. Generally speaking, couples think their partner handles money well.
The joint bank account
A total of 58% of cohabiting partners have a joint bank account. Just over a third of them open a joint account from the moment they begin living together, but most only do so when they are looking to buy a house or are expecting their first child. ‘When you move in together, it’s very sensible to set some ground rules about finances’, says Anke Slagter, Marketing Manager Retail Banking. ‘That removes any uncertainty and ensures that the financial relationship, too, gets off to a good start’.
The amount of money couples transfer to the joint account each month varies. Over a quarter (27%) have all their income paid into this account; 25% transfer a set amount each month and 20% transfer a percentage of their income. Whatever variation they choose, three-quarters of cohabiting partners check their joint bank account at least once a week. This can produce a few surprises: for example, in one in five households it transpires that money has sometimes been spent on clothing, gifts and hobbies without the partner being aware of this.
Most cohabiting couples use their joint bank account to pay fixed costs such as rent or mortgage, Internet/TV subscription and insurance. They use their own personal accounts mainly to buy clothing (46%), pay phone bills (35%), care insurance (35%) and buy gifts (32%). Interestingly, after opening a joint account, men spend less. Men also indicated in the survey that they thought women are generally better at managing money.
The Nibud survey was carried out against the backdrop of the ‘Cohabitation Week’ (Week van het Samenwonen) organised by ABN AMRO together with EPN (the Dutch Association of Notarial Estate Planners) from 24 to 28 June 2013. Cohabitation Week kicks off a period of three months in which both organisations will focus on cohabitation. More information can be found (in Dutch) at abnamro.nl/samenwonen.