05-Jun-2018 • Personal Finance

Young Australians are no longer feeling the love for shared bank accounts according to a ME survey of 2,000 transaction account holders.
Of those in married and de facto relationships, 71% said they shared a joint transaction account.
But this proportion fell with age to:
  • 54% of Gen Z (18–24-year-olds)
  • 68% of Gen Y (25–39-year-olds)
  • 70% of Gen X (40–54-year-olds)
  • 76% of Baby Boomers (55–74-year-olds)
Of those who kept their finances separate, over a third (36%) said the primary driver was financial independence. This was closely followed by a desire for privacy (13%) and a lack of trust in their partner’s spending habits (11%).
The key events that triggered couples to open a joint transaction account included: getting married (52%), moving in together (19%) and purchasing a home (17%).
The pros for joint accounts
Regardless of age, the majority of married and de facto couples (72%) said joint bank accounts build trust and a closer relationship.
A further 71% said joint accounts are useful for managing day-to-day spending and 64% said joint accounts make them accountable to sticking to a budget or plan.
Around 55% of married and de facto couples said joint accounts reduce the risk of excessive spending.
And nearly half (49%) said they were more cautious about withdrawing money from a joint account than their own account.
The cons for joint accounts
However, slightly less than a third (30%) of married and de facto couples said merging money could lead to arguments.
Of those that thought joint accounts could lead to arguments, nearly half (48%) thought joint accounts could even cause a break-up or lead to divorce.
Furthermore, 38% of married and de facto couples admitted to feeling ‘guilty’ when spending money from their joint account for their own purposes. 
ME Money Expert Matthew Read said he’s not surprised younger Australians are less enamoured of joint accounts.
“As with all things, younger generations tend to question what was once assumed and the traditional expectation that couples share accounts may be part of that questioning. 
“Australians are also getting married later and by the time they commit they’re set in their independent money habits. The older you are before you commit, the more likely you are to have savings and assets of some sort, perhaps increasing the desire in some people for remaining financially separate, at least initially.”
“Another reason for the shift may be related to the growing financial independence of women and their desire to have a bank account of their own and more control over their finances.”
Read added: “there are practical benefits that can come from sharing accounts. For example, it’s easier to track spending and set and manage budgets.
“But paradoxically, having separate accounts and shared lives can force each individual in a relationship to talk more about money together and to share that responsibility. Shared accounts can sometimes lead to one person taking full control while the other remains blissfully unaware.
“Managing your own account will force you to take more responsibility for your finances and can lead to greater financially literacy.”


Note to editors:
ME’s survey was completed by 2,000 transaction account holders in March 2018.
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