Should You And Your Spouse Use Joint Accounts or Separate Accounts?

It’s a question that inevitably comes up when two people marry. Should they continue to utilize their own separate checking and savings accounts, or should they merge their finances into joint bank accounts?AdobeStock_90060964

What works for one couple may not work for another. Because both banking approaches each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to explore, discuss, and weigh all options before arriving at a mutually agreeable decision.

Some of the distinct advantages of joint bank accounts include:

  • Because a joint account generally results in more money being pooled together, it can help with avoiding account fees such as those associated with maintaining a minimum monthly balance.
  • With a joint account, both parties have access to the money in it. This can prevent you from having to frequently transfer money between your account and your spouse’s account, and it can also be convenient in an emergency, or if one spouse passes away.
  • It can make it easier to handle shared expenses and bills. Instead of having to determine how much money should come out of your individual accounts each time a payment is due, you can simply write a check, or schedule bill payments, directly from your joint checking account.
  • Because both spouses can see the spending habits of the other, there is an increased level of accountability with a joint account. With both of you viewing the money as “our” money instead of “my” money and “your” money, there’s also a higher likelihood of financial communication regarding the household’s budget and purchases.
  • If either you or your spouse is a stay-at-home parent, a joint account could help alleviate tension and resentment. Since the stay-at-home spouse doesn’t have a traditional salary to place into their own separate account, having access to the funds in a joint account could help them to feel valued and compensated for work they do inside of the home.
  • In the event that one spouse loses their job or is out of work on medical leave, having a joint account already in place can prevent you both from having to merge your money at the last minute. It can also prevent you from having to cancel and re-do any bill payments that may have previously been scheduled from the out-of-work spouse’s account.

On the flip side, merging your money into a joint account has some disadvantages as well. These include:

  • Some couples associate a joint account with having to surrender their financial independence. With a joint account you and your spouse could feel trapped without each having access to “your own” money.
  • With many couples marrying later in life, there’s a good chance of both parties coming into the marriage with their own finances already in good, working order. For example, you both may have bill payments scheduled from your own individual checking accounts, or you may have your pay from work directly deposited into your own account every week. These things could be a bit of a hassle to un-do and re-do, so some couples may prefer to leave their accounts “as is” after they tie the knot.
  • With a joint account, there is a lack of privacy in regard to your finances. You may not want your spouse nagging you about that coffee you buy on the way to work every morning, or maybe you just want to be able to buy them a present without them seeing the transaction details on your joint debit card statement!
  • If one spouse enters the marriage with student loan debt or alimony or child support obligations, the other spouse could become resentful if those payments or to be made from joint funds.
  • When bills are paid out of a joint account, it’s fairly typical for one spouse to manage the couple’s finances. This could eventually turn into a point of friction if the spouse who’s managing the money starts to view the job as a burden or chore.
  • In the event of a separation or divorce, a joint account can become a bit challenging. Because both parties have legal access to the money in the account, it’s possible for one spouse to drain the funds without the other knowing. Even if you both leave the money where it is, it can be messy determining who gets exactly what from a joint account after the relationship is over.

As you’re deciding which type of account is right for your marriage, keep in mind that there is a third option – having a combination of both joint and separate accounts. Some couples keep a portion of their incomes in separate accounts so they can still access “their own” money, while each contributing to a joint account as well. A joint savings account could be used to save for things like a down payment on a home, college tuition, or a vacation, while a joint checking account could be used exclusively to pay major monthly bills such as mortgage payments or utilities.

No matter what banking approach you decide to use, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the arrangement on a regular basis to determine if it’s still the best fit for your family.

You can learn more about Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking Account here: http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-checking

You can learn more about our High-Interest Savings Account here: http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-savings

Feel Safe and Secure With Online Banking

The popularity of online and mobile banking continues to rise, largely due to its convenience and ease-of-use. And doing your banking online can be just as safe as banking at a brick-and-mortar bank, as long as you take the proper precautions.AdobeStock_52514650

Here are some general tips for helping to ensure a safe and secure online banking experience:

Ensure the bank is insured.

If you’re beginning a relationship with an online bank, it’s important to verify the bank’s insurance status. Check their website for an FDIC logo or the words “Member FDIC” or “FDIC Insured”.

The FDIC has an online database of FDIC-insured institutions at https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. You can use this database to determine if your online bank or a bank you’re interested in is covered under FDIC insurance. You can search for an institution by the bank’s name or address. A positive match will display the official name of the bank, the date it became insured, its insurance certificate number, the main office location for the bank, its primary government regulator, and other links to detailed information about the bank.

When using this tool though, be aware that some banks, like Bank5 Connect, operate under a “DBA” name (also known as a “doing business as” name). A DBA name will not work with the FDIC database tool, so you’ll need to search with the bank’s address instead.

Also keep in mind that not all online banks are insured by the FDIC. Many banks that are not FDIC-insured are chartered overseas. Check with your bank or the FDIC if you are uncertain whether your deposits are insured.

Bank5 Connect is FDIC insured, and also insured by the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). There is no dollar limit to the DIF’s insurance coverage; they cover everything above FDIC limits. What this means is that all Bank5 Connect deposits are insured in full. To learn more about Bank5 Connect’s DIF coverage, please visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/misc/fully-insured-deposits.

Make sure the online banking website is secure.

Whenever you’re entering sensitive personal or financial information online, be sure to check to make sure the website is secure. First and foremost, you should ensure that the browser is showing “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” on the page where you’re entering the sensitive information. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is transmitted between the browser and the website. The “S” at the end of HTTPS stands for “secure”. When you see the “HTTPS” (some browsers also display a small icon of a lock or a key next to the web address when you’re on a secure page), it means that all communication between your browser and the website are encrypted. Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access.

And even if the bank’s website is secure, it doesn’t mean that sending an email to an address listed on the website is secure. You should never send sensitive information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, through unsecured e-mail.

Use a strong password or PIN.

When you’re deciding on a password or PIN (personal identification number) for online banking, be sure it is not a password or PIN that you use for other websites or accounts, and ensure it is strong. Never use something that’s easy to guess (no common words, names of loved ones, or birthdates), and use a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols for increased security. Passwords should also be changed regularly, and remember to never share your password or PIN with others.

Use a secure device and network.

Any time you’re doing banking activity online, make sure your computer or mobile device’s virus protection and other security software is up to date. It’s also important to never transmit sensitive information or conduct banking business over public Wi-Fi networks.

Check your bank accounts regularly.

Even if you follow all of the steps above, you should still get in the habit of monitoring your bank accounts on at least a weekly basis for any irregular or suspicious activity. If you do notice any strange transactions, be sure to notify your banking institution immediately.

 

Appointing a Beneficiary to Your Bank Account

You may not have considered adding a beneficiary to your bank account, but doing so can help you to protect the money in your account, and ensure that it’s passed on to the appropriate person after your death.AdobeStock_49222902

Checking and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit (CDs), can have beneficiaries associated with them. Naming a beneficiary to your accounts clearly defines who gets the money once you are deceased. Without a named beneficiary, any bank accounts you have will go into probate court after your death, where the court will decide who your money should be transferred to. Probate can be a long, drawn-out process, and can also be expensive for your loved ones.

One way to avoid probate is for you to decide in advance who should receive the funds in your account after your death. This is referred to as naming a “payable-on-death”, or POD, beneficiary to your account.

Most financial institutions, including Bank5 Connect, will add a beneficiary to your account for free. Your Bank5 Connect account can only have one beneficiary listed, and that beneficiary must be a person, not an organization.

Most financial institutions allow you to change your named beneficiary as often as you like. Changing a beneficiary may be necessary if your beneficiary dies before you do. Or, you may want to make a change if you get a divorce and your ex-spouse is listed as your beneficiary. It’s generally a good idea to review who you have listed as your beneficiaries every few years, so you can make adjustments as necessary.

Naming a beneficiary to your bank account doesn’t require you to give up ownership or control of your funds. The beneficiary cannot withdraw funds from your account while you’re still alive, nor are they entitled to receive any financial statements or other correspondence regarding your account.

After your death, the funds in your account will be available to your beneficiary. They’ll just need to present photo identification and a death certificate before your financial institution will release the funds in your account to them.

To name a beneficiary to a Bank5 Connect account, you’ll need to obtain a form – either by e-mail or regular mail – from the bank to fill out. The form then needs to be notarized, since it’s a legal document, and returned to Bank5 Connect.

For more information on naming a beneficiary to your Bank5 Connect account, or to obtain a form, fill out the contact form at https://www.bank5connect.com/home/contact

Chip-Enabled Cards Help Prevent Fraud

It wasn’t that long ago when few, if any, people in the U.S. knew what a chip-enabled card was. Today, millions of these cards are now in circulation across the nation, much to the disappointment of fraudsters.AdobeStock_22591245

That’s because chip-enabled debit and credit cards make it a lot more difficult for crooks to steal data, especially compared to their older cousins – magnetic stripe cards. The technology used for each type of card is what makes the difference.

Chip-enabled cards take advantage of EMV technology. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – a global standard for credit and debit cards. All Bank5 Connect debit cards are now equipped with EMV chips for added security.

Older cards that lack chip technology have their data embedded in the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. The problem is, that this data doesn’t change from one transaction to another. This means that if a thief happens to steal the data during an in-person transaction (by using a card skimmer, or installing malware on the cash register system) they can then turn around and create counterfeit cards with the stolen data.

Each time a chip-enabled card is used for payment in a chip reader however, the card’s chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. So if a thief creates a fake card based on transaction information stolen from a chip-embedded card, the fake card will be denied because the information will be outdated.

The process of inserting a chip-enabled card into a chip reader is called card “dipping”, as opposed to the “swiping” method used for magnetic stripe cards. If you’ve used a chip reader, you may have noticed that the transaction takes a few seconds longer than a card swipe. This is because when a card is “dipped”, information has to flow between the chip and the financial institution that issued the card in order to verify the card and create the unique transaction data. But, this slightly longer transaction time is well worth the additional security!

Since the switch to EMV chip technology began in the United States in October 2015, it’s estimated that 40-60 million chip-enabled cards have replaced magnetic stripe cards. Bank5 Connect alone has issued thousands of chip-enabled debit cards to its customers.

Unlike Europe, where EMV cards have been in use for many years, it’s going to take some time before chip-embedded technology is fully in place across the U.S. A major reason for the slow switchover is the cost involved with creating the new cards and installing the equipment needed to read them. The good news is that chip-enabled cards are still equipped with a magnetic stripe on the back of them, so if you happen to be checking out at a retailer who hasn’t yet installed a chip reader, you can still pay for your purchase with a good old-fashioned card swipe.

While chip-embedded cards provide an added defense against fraud, there are still ways that thieves can get their hands on your card information. Keep in mind that the card still has a magnetic stripe, and any purchases you make with a “swipe” do not utilize the chip’s security benefits. And it’s still possible to lose your card, have it stolen, or have it compromised during an online purchase. Because of this, it’s always wise to monitor your bank statements and card activity on a regular basis. If you suspect someone has used your card fraudulently, you should immediately alert your bank or the financial institution that issued your card.

A Comprehensive Blanket of Insurance Covers Bank5 Connect Deposit Accounts

If you enjoy the convenience and features that Bank5 Connect has to offer, here’s another bonus that comes with our online-only banking – all your deposits are insured in full.AdobeStock_60654093

There’s no need to worry that your deposits are at risk at any time. When you place your money in a Bank5 Connect account, you can be assured that every penny is totally covered by deposit insurance.

That’s because Bank5 Connect is a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF) member bank. This means each depositor is insured by the FDIC to $250,000. All deposits above this amount are covered by the DIF.

Simply put, there are no gaps in insurance coverage for Bank5 Connect customers’ deposit accounts. That’s about as risk free as you can get.

Plus, there is no dollar limit to the DIF’s coverage – the Fund covers everything above the FDIC limit of $250,000. What’s more, all deposits placed in a Bank5 Connect account are eligible for DIF coverage. That includes checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit.

Another great feature of DIF coverage? There are no forms or applications to fill out to receive the insurance. It’s automatic and free.

Since the inception of both insurance programs, no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC- or DIF-insured deposits. That in itself is a remarkable track record.

How and why did each program come about? Here’s a quick overview.

The DIF was established by the Massachusetts legislature in 1934 as an alternative to the FDIC. At that time, Massachusetts savings banks, by state law, were not allowed to join the FDIC.

However, the law was changed in 1956 to allow Bay State savings banks to join the federal insurance program. For those that did, the DIF became known as an excess deposit insurer, meaning the Fund insured deposits in excess of the FDIC limit. By 1986, all DIF member banks had joined the FDIC.

Even though state law created the DIF, it is a private deposit insurance company and not backed by the state or federal government.

On the other hand, the FDIC is an independent agency of the United States government that protects you against the loss of your deposits if an FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

The FDIC was created as a result of widespread bank failures during The Great Depression in the 1920s and 1930s. In addition to establishing the agency, the Banking Act of 1933 also regulated the volatile banking industry and renewed the public’s confidence in the banking industry. The Banking Act of 1935 made the FDIC a permanent government agency.

So the next time you place money in one of your Bank5 Connect deposit accounts, take comfort in knowing that it has a total blanket of insurance coverage.

You can learn more about the FDIC at its website at www.FDIC.govAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!

Additional details about the DIF are available at www.DIFxs.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!