When my husband and I decided to get married, one of the first things we did was join our bank accounts. At the time, we were planning to buy our first home and combining our finances seemed like a smart step. It helped that we were still young and our savings were meager. We both felt it was a merger of equals. Yet many couples starting out don't feel the same way.
One-in-three Canadian couples between the ages of 18 to 35 keep completely separate bank accounts and financial products, according to an RBC poll released on Thursday. Only 10 per cent of those surveyed hold all of their accounts and products jointly.
More than half of the couples are keeping their funds divided to maintain a sense of financial independence, while 31 per cent say they have different financial needs than their partner.
Still, while their bank accounts are separated, these couples are firmly committed to building their finances together.
Almost two-thirds say that planning for a financially stable future is top of mind. That includes preparing to have children and buying a home, which many of the couples polled planned to do within five years.
Whether you have one bank account or two, the key to making a long-term relationship work is communication, says Patricia Domingo, an RBC investment and retirement planner.
"Discussing financial plans that take into account long-term objectives and life events is essential to any relationship. Being on the same page and agreeing on financial priorities can help ease the transition to buying a dream home or starting a family.
RBC offers young couples some tips to help build and maintain a healthy financial relationship and achieve their life goals:
Talk openly with your partner. Discuss your spending and saving habits as well as your values and attitudes surrounding money matters. Be honest about any past mistakes, like defaulting on a student loan or outstanding debts, which may affect both of your finances.
Decide on key issues. It's important to decide on key issues such as who pays for which expenses? Who's in charge of paying bills and reconciling bank accounts? What are your financial goals as a couple? What does spending and saving mean to each of you?
Review your financial arrangements as a couple. Sit down together and review all of your accounts, plans and investments and simplify as much as possible. Whether you use a joint account or manage separate accounts, keeping a banking account for day-to-day expenses can help make paying bills and tracking spending easier. Working through your financial goals and arrangements together will give you confidence that you are managing your money wisely.