Here are some steps you can take if you are thinking of a joint account:
- Pay in a set, agreed amount every month. This should cover the monthly costs on your home, utilities and other expenses you’ve agreed to share. You could add extra on to create a financial cushion in case of emergencies (e.g. the central heating breaking down) or to cover the occasional treat (e.g. a night in a hotel twice a year).
- Make the contribution fair. If one of you is earning more than the other a 50/50 split might be unfair. The higher earner should consider contributing to the greater proportion.
- Agree what the joint account covers. Monthly utility bills will be clear-cut. Variable expenditure will be less so. If you both use the account for food, booze, treats, travel, etc. agree what a reasonable monthly spend should be.
- Review it together regularly. Sit down at least once a month and go through the paperwork. Check that what you’re paying in is keeping pace with your outgoings. Make sure you’re both clued up on your expenses and financial commitments.
- If one partner isn’t happy with the arrangement to discuss it in a calm and neutral way. Whatever happens, don’t get into competitive or revenge spending. Remember you’re both liable if the account goes overdrawn.
“We have a joint account into which my husband pays £1,200 a month and I pay £200. We also have a separate account each. I like feeling that I can have some independence, and my husband uses his own account for business costs. Our mortgage, bills, food and general costs come out of the joint account.” – Judith, Glasgow.