One sure sign that a couple was getting married used to be that they would open a joint bank account. The thinking was that it easier to run household when there a joint account to pay the bills, but symbolically it was also a show of commitment or loyalty where they now shared everything regardless of where it comes from. A recent study by Bank of American, however, polled 1,500 customers and found that the joint account is no longer a given for couples, particularly among millennials.
More than boomers and gen x-ers
While some critics have complained the millennials have poor saving habits, there is some hard evidence that they are smarter than many give them credit for:
- 28 percent of millennial couples (age 23-37) say that they keep finances separate
- 11 percent of gen x (age 38-53)
- 13 percent of baby boomers (age 54-up)
Common factors for why this is happening
There are a variety of reasons attributed to this change. These include:
- Couples live together before getting married and keep separate bank accounts during this time. This often remains the case after marriage because the approach already established.
- Couples are often older than previous generations and are in better place professionally and financially.
- Some find it rewarding to clearly outline the financial contribution they bring to the relationship.
- Some find the role of a joint account is antiquated and pushes couples into stereotypes of past generations.
- Some have bad memories of their family being put into a financial bind because of poor choices made by a parent as the other looked on helplessly.
Changing times and opinions
Whereas past generations would have seen separate bank accounts as a lack of trust in a couple’s relationship, the inverse may now be true. According to an article in The Atlantic, couples don’t need to see the income or disclosure of assets of the spouse or partner to trust them. If one of them runs into financial difficulty, the other is still likely to help cover the expense or debt. Keeping finances separate may even reduce to tension of a couple in the early phase of the relationship.
This mindset is applicable to couples who choose to draft a prenuptial agreement with an attorney before getting married. Many find the clearly defined responsibility and obligations as helpful, particularly in regards to clearly defining what marital property is. It can also be a matter of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, the couple does not need to change something if it clearly works for them.