Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.25 10 Jun 2021


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For this week's So You Think You're An Adult, a listener wants to know if it's normal to have a joint bank account with her fiancé.

Amanda Brunker and Declan Buckley joined Moncrieff to offer advice to the nation.

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So You Think You're An Adult: Is it normal to have a joint bank account?

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The dilemma

My fiancé and I were due to get married this summer, but we’ve postponed it until 2022 due to the pandemic. We’ve been together for two and a half years. We’re both in our early 40s. He has two kids from a previous relationship.

When we got engaged eight months ago, I suggested we get a joint bank account so we could pool some of our resources. I felt it was the normal thing for a committed couple to do. However, he’s not at all keen on that and says it’s better to keep our finances separate.

I brought it up again last week and he reaffirmed his earlier reluctance. I’m just so upset about this - I feel he doesn’t trust me, or perhaps he has reservations about our future. Now with our marriage postponed too, I feel very anxious about it all.

I was under the impression it was normal for a couple to have a joint bank account. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Amanda's advice

"Can you hear that knock? It’s 1950s Ireland calling. What is this woman thinking?

"Is she trying to keep an eye on his wages? Is she trying to siphon off some of his money?

"As a woman who had two kids with my husband before we got a joint account - and that was only to pay the mortgage and some of the bills - why would you have a joint account? That’s kind of weird.

"Growing up, my mother always said to be that you should always have your ‘running away’ money… that secret stash of money.

"Maybe this woman is very traditional… why would you want to pool it?

"Hang on to your money, girl - have some independence!

"No, it’s not [normal] - why would you have a joint bank account unless you both have to pay for something equally… like a mortgage or utility bills.

"I’d try to go easy on yourself, and not force things too much. You don’t need certain milestones - [not having] a joint bank account doesn’t make you any less of a couple."

Declan’s advice

"I do agree financial independence is important, and it’s not only just about the ‘money in the tin at the back’. It’s just generally reassuring to know you’ve maintained a certain amount of your independence.

"I think what she means is having a third bank account - your own, his own, and one where you throw the money in to pay the bills.

"What I’m feeling from this whole problem is she’s looking to go somewhere with this relationship - the markers of integration as a couple. He’s burnt once in a previous relationship… probably isn’t keen to get in the same scenario again.

"I don’t think this is about money - it’s about reassurance.

"If you’re cohabitating with someone… isn’t a [joint account] the easiest way to deal with things?

"Fundamentally, being married and having a joint bank account won't keep that relationship together if it's not going to stay together anyway.

"Maybe the point is he's had experiences in the past that have created... tentativeness. He just thinks it's probably simpler to [not have a joint account].

"I do think there is a bit of transparency you have to have in your relationship to make things work."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/PA Images

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