Should you open a joint bank account with your partner?
Whether you’re newlyweds or long-term partners, one of the biggest questions people often ask is if they should have a joint bank account with their significant other. Money can be a touchy subject, especially in relationships, but it’s necessary to ensure you’re on the same page. Money is the number one subject couples fight about, and it’s the second-leading cause of divorce. Every couple’s situation is different, but below are a few points to contemplate if you’re on the fence about opening a joint bank account.
Why have a joint bank account?
Joint accounts can make managing money easier when your funds are in one place, especially if you’re using it to pay for bills like a mortgage, rent, or utilities. It also makes sense to have a shared account if you’re saving for a common goal, like a down payment on a house or a vacation.
Joint accounts also promote trust and shared decision-making. Spending can be viewed by both parties, plus you’re working together to budget your money and make decisions about your finances.
In addition, each account holder is federally insured by the NCUA (or FDIC outside of credit unions) for $250,000—a total of $500,000 if there are two account owners and no other beneficiaries. This allows you to maximize your NCUA insurance. For example, if you have an individual CD in addition to a joint checking account, your CD is still entitled to $250,000 in NCUA insurance—meaning all of your deposits are insured up to $750,000.
When joint accounts don’t make sense
A joint account may not be the best choice if you have drastically different spending habits. If one person is a spender and the other is a saver, it could potentially lead to conflict. In that case, consider opening a joint account for bills only and have individual accounts for your “fun” money.
A shared account is also not ideal if one partner has significant debt. With separate accounts, you can ensure the more financially responsible partner is protected if debt collectors come knocking on your door. If you have a joint account with rights of survivorship (which is common), then the responsibility of the account is placed on one partner if the co-owner passes away. Your account could be seized for that debt, depending on where you live.
Lastly, if one partner is paying alimony or child support, separate accounts may be best to keep track of those payments.
What to consider before opening a shared account
Some serious (and maybe not-so-fun) conversations must happen before you dive into joint account ownership. In addition to considering each other’s spending habits, you should evaluate how you communicate. Strive for open conversations and transparency with your spending and budgeting.
It’s important to take your partner’s funds into account, too, because it’s no longer just your money. For example, it’s probably a good idea to inform each other of big purchases that you need (or want) to make, like a new gaming console or home improvements. Discuss how the funds will be used, as well as whether or not you can afford it in the first place. Consider agreeing to an amount you can spend without consulting the other person (still keep your spending in check, though).
How to open a joint account
Opening a joint account is easy. You can open an account online or in person at your nearest Georgia’s Own branch. You’ll need your and your partner’s Social Security number, birthdate, mailing address, and ID, plus how you’ll fund the account.
Pros and cons of shared accounts
- Reduces the hassle of paying bills when your funds are in one place
- Allows you to save toward a goal together
- Promotes trust and shared decision-making
- Each account holder is NCUA insured up to $250,000—a maximum of $500,000 for two account holders
- You could potentially be responsible for a partner’s debt
- Less privacy surrounding your spending
- Both of your spending needs to be accounted for
Whether or not to open a joint bank account is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on your circumstances and your relationship with your partner. If you’re considering opening a joint account, have an open and honest conversation about your spending habits, financial goals, and communication style.
Still on the fence? Consider speaking with a financial advisor to get personalized advice. You can meet with a financial advisor from Georgia’s Own at no cost and no obligation to discuss your situation and determine what’s best for you.
Tax time: What’s new for tax season 2023
It’s tax season again! With the pandemic-era tax changes coming to an end, and new rules instituted to battle inflation, there are many changes to be aware of when preparing to file your return—especially if this is your first time filing. The deadline to file is April 18th, which is a few days later than the usual April 15th deadline, but it will be here before you know it. File your taxes with confidence—below are a few things to keep in mind when filing your 2022 tax return.
Pandemic-era tax credits
Economic Impact Payments
No new Economic Impact Payments (also known as stimulus checks) were issued in 2022. This also means you will not be able to claim any Recovery Rebate Credits.
Child Tax Credit
The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in 2021 and made it fully refundable. In 2022, the CTC returned to its previous nonrefundable status and was reduced to $2,000 per qualifying child. It will also once again be limited to dependents under the age of 17.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
If you pay for the care of a qualifying person in order to work, you can still receive a credit for some or all of your expenses. The IRS, however, has significantly reduced the child and dependent care credit cap for 2022—to a maximum of $2,100. In addition, the credit has reverted to its previous nonrefundable status, and the amount of employment-related expenses you can claim has been lowered to $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.
Charitable deduction changes
Another big change this year revolves around charitable deductions. For those filing 2022 tax returns, any charitable contributions must be itemized using the Schedule A form to get a deduction. That’s a big change from the last two years when the IRS offered an above-the-line deduction for contributions.
Inflation Reduction Act changes
The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August of last year provided a few new tax breaks that filers could take advantage of in the 2022 tax year.
Increased credit for solar energy products
The act increased the Residential Clean Energy Credit—you can now subtract 30% of the installation costs for solar heating, solar electricity (such as panels), and other solar products for the home. There is also no cap on the credit or income limitations. Additionally, the act removed the principal residence restriction, meaning homeowners who installed solar products on second or vacation homes are also eligible for the credit.
Eligibility for electric vehicle (EV) Tax Credit
Consumers who bought a new electric vehicle (EV) may be eligible to receive the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit up to a maximum of $7,500 depending on the capacity of the battery. While that credit isn’t new, those who bought the vehicle between Aug. 17, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022, must show that the vehicle underwent final assembly in North America to qualify. This requirement doesn’t apply to vehicles purchased earlier in 2022 before the act was signed.
Income tax brackets have changed for 2022
For the 2022 tax year, income tax brackets were also raised to account for inflation. Your income bracket refers to how much tax you owe based on your adjusted gross income, which is the money you make before taxes are taken out, excluding itemized exemptions and tax deductions.
Interest on refunds
In 2022, some taxpayers received interest payments on their federal refund if they received their refund late. Refund interest payments are taxable and must be reported when filing your 2022 federal income tax return. The IRS sent Form 1099-INT to anyone who received $10 or more in interest. If you did not receive the form, you must still report your interest income earned. Check your account statement or contact your financial institution to get your interest-earning amounts.
If you were self-employed in 2022, there are various deductions you can claim on your tax return, like travel expenses or the home office deduction. The home office deduction covers mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, and depreciation. However, if you, like millions of Americans, worked remotely, you cannot claim these deductions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the business use of home deductions through 2025. Home office deductions are reserved for independent contractors or other self-employed individuals who regularly and exclusively use their homes to conduct business and their work. So, employees who receive a paycheck or W-2 from an employer are not eligible to claim the deduction—even if they currently work from home.
How to Stay Ahead
Last quarterly payment for 2022 is due on January 17, 2023
Taxpayers may need to consider estimated or additional tax payments due to non-wage income from unemployment, self-employment, annuity income, or even digital assets. The Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov can help wage earners determine if there is a need to consider additional tax withholding to avoid an unexpected tax bill when they file next year
Gather 2022 tax documents
With the end of the month comes an influx of tax forms in the mail or your email inbox. Be on the lookout for your W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks or other payers, Form 1099-K from third-party payment networks, Form 1099-NEC for nonemployee compensation, Form 1099-MISC for miscellaneous income, or Form 1099-INT if you were paid interest. Additionally, if you have health insurance through the Marketplace, you will need Form 1095.
Georgia’s Own mailed out 1099-INT to all eligible members on January 20th, 2023. Those who received less than $10 in interest will not receive a 1099-INT.
Ensuring your tax records are complete before filing helps you avoid errors that could lead to processing delays.
Get refunds faster with direct deposit
The fastest way to get a tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit. Direct deposit is faster than waiting for a paper check in the mail. It also avoids the possibility that a refund check could be lost, stolen or returned to the IRS as undeliverable.
In need of a new checking account? Georgia’s Own has a variety of checking account options so you can be sure to find the right one for you. Plus, through the end of February, members are eligible for a $200 bonus* when opening a NEW Perks+ Checking account with online banking (new accounts only, not converted).
- Several pandemic-era tax credits returned to their previous caps, such as the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
- The Inflation Reduction Act implemented changes, like the increased Residential Clean Energy Credit.
- Gathering all your tax documents ahead of time can help you get the biggest refund and avoid errors that could lead to processing delays.
Remember—if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $73,000 annually, you qualify to file your return for free using the IRS’s Free File Program. Additionally, Georgia’s Own members are eligible for a discount on TurboTax®** and H&R Block®.***
Once your return is accepted by the IRS, you can use Where’s My Refund to track when you’ll receive your refund. April will be here before you know it, so allow yourself plenty of time to file to ensure there are no errors. Keep these tips in mind, and tax season will be a breeze.
Do college students need a checking account?
Perhaps it hasn’t hit you yet. If you are or soon will be a college student, financial responsibility is an essential lesson. The sooner you learn it, the better off you’ll be, not only through college but for the rest of your life. But, for now, let’s focus on college life and how opening a checking account now can make it easier.
Cash is okay for covering small costs, but what about the bigger ones, such as parking passes and living expenses? It’s not safe or feasible to keep that much cash on hand. By opening a checking account that comes with a debit card, you can knock out those expenses quickly and securely. Also, if you plan on having a part-time job, you’ll need to have a checking account to take advantage of direct deposit. You’ll also enjoy the ease of online bill pay to cover utility bills, etc., if applicable.
College is a time when most students have to learn how to get by with less. Worn-out sofas, care packages from home, and cheap eats are the norm. Those who learn how to manage their money well do best. A checking account makes it easier to keep an eye on your limited funds, create a budget, and reconcile your account. These are lessons that you’ll be glad you learned in college because you’re really going to need them once you graduate, get a full-time job, and, for some, start a family.
Which account is best for you?
As previously mentioned, most college students are working with limited funds. If you’re one of them, you want a checking account that offers the features you need but without expensive fees.
Keep in mind, many financial institutions will advertise “free” checking accounts with no fees, but they come with strings attached. Be sure you check out the fine print. Students tend to sign up with a bank or credit union that’s on or close to campus. It may be well worth your effort to expand your search to find a better option. Generally speaking, you can expect better rates, fewer fees, and exceptional customer service from a credit union. By making smart financial decisions now, you’re laying down a solid foundation for success that lasts well beyond college.
Five things you’ve got to do if you have a credit card
Establishing and managing good credit is an important responsibility in today’s world. Especially since your credit rating—that 3-digit number that defines your credit worthiness- depends on it. There are several factors that impact your credit rating, one of which is your credit card activity. We’ve come up with five best practices when tempted by the love of plastic money:
1. Watch your credit limit
Did you know that credit card companies start to monitor any account with a balance that’s more than 40% of the credit limit? Experts recommend keeping credit card utilization below 30 percent on each card and collectively. This shows lenders that you know how to spend responsibly and this can help raise your credit score. Anything more than that and it could indicate that you’re struggling financially and lenders might worry that you’ll have trouble paying it back.
2. Make your payments on time
If you’re late just one time, call the customer service representative and kindly ask if they’ll waive the late fee. If you’ve historically paid on time, they may do it as a courtesy. If you’re habitually late, it will cost you. Making your monthly payment on time impacts your credit rating, your interest rate, any promotions the company offers, and more.
We all slip up now and again, though. If you miss a payment, make it as quickly as possible because the amount of time really does matter. Paying five days late is better than paying 30 days late so act quickly—and then maybe think about signing up for auto pay.
3. Pay off your monthly balances in full
Paying off your monthly balance in full each month builds a practice of excellent credit habits. It will help to avoid late payments, unnecessary finance charges, and the accumulation of unnecessary debt. It will also benefit your credit score and keep your credit utilization ratio in check, which is an important factor in the calculation of your credit rating.
4. Open your statements!
Even if you pay your bills online, it’s important to view the activity on your monthly statements. Is there a random charge you didn’t authorize? Maybe a monthly subscription that you didn’t realize you agreed to? Has your payment due date changed? Is a promotional date ending or has there been a change in your interest rate or fees? Your statement includes lots of valuable information, much of which impacts your finances, so take a few minutes and read it carefully. We’re hoping not, but you may be surprised at what you find.
5. Store the customer service number, just in case
If your card is ever missing or stolen, the first thing you’ll need to do is report it to the credit card company so a hold can be put on the account. Without the physical card, however, you won’t have the customer service number. Write down the credit card name and customer service phone number now and keep it handy. If you choose to copy the credit card number, plan to put it in a safe place where it’s not easily accessible to just anyone.
Buying your first car – how the process works
Purchasing a car can be an intimidating process, especially if you buy into the over-dramatized, stereotypical depiction of car salespeople and dealerships. Here’s the catch, though–it doesn’t have to be. When you’ve done your research, you know what you want, and you’re ready to buy, YOU’RE in the driver’s seat. Here are some steps that will help you effectively manage the car buying process with confidence.
Check your credit score
Before your visit any dealership, be sure to check your credit score. Your credit score is a three-digit number that reflects your individual creditworthiness. It quantifies the likeliness that you will repay your credit obligations and is the best prediction of risk a lender can assume when extending credit to you. Consumers have the right to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you haven’t yet requested your copy, click here.
Once you know your credit rating, visit your credit union to meet with a lending officer. They’ll review the loan options best suited to help you manage your purchase and the subsequent payments. By planning in advance of your trip to the dealership, you’ll be able to get pre-approval for a dollar amount that fits within your budget and comes with a competitive interest rate. This will alleviate the pressure to accept the dealer’s convenient, but often unfavorable financing.
Narrow down your car choices
Before you start looking for a car, decide on the features you need and want in a vehicle. Do you want a sedan or an SUV? Are leather seats a necessity? How about an entertainment system? What safety features are a must? Make a list of features and prioritize them in terms of importance. This list will help you start to narrow down your vehicle choices.
Do some research online. There are many websites that can help you decide which cars might be a good choice. KBB.com reports information from Kelly Blue Book, JDPower.com/cars is an especially good resource if you’re looking to research reliability, and ConsumerReports.org’s annual car issue is an excellent source of independent rating by an unbiased third-party.
Once you narrow down your choices, spend some time visiting dealerships and test driving the vehicles at the top of your list.
Avoiding the lemon
Today, people frequently trade in their cars after a year or two or after their lease expires. No longer is the used car lot full of old clunkers. In fact, pre-owned cars can often be a better deal than buying new. To make sure you’re not inheriting someone else’s headache, be sure to make your purchase through a reputable dealer who has to answer to manufacturers. Look for cars with low odometer mileage, which typically means less wear and tear, and those with warranties still in effect.
Also, be sure to request a copy of the vehicle’s history report, like Carfax, to see accident, repair and title information.
Finalizing the deal
When you’re satisfied that you’ve found the right car, one that meets your needs and fits within your budget, meet with a salesperson to negotiate the price. You’ll need to contact your credit union, provide them with some information, and coordinate payment before the deal is officially finalized and the car is delivered.
Any car, whether new or pre-owned, is an expensive purchase that warrants the appropriate time and attention. It’s not a quick and simple process. In the end, though, you’ll feel confident in the fact that you did everything you could to secure the best deal and execute the smoothest transaction possible.
#MemberAppreciationMonday – Snow Mountain!
As part of #MemberAppreciationMonday, we are giving our members special perks, simply for being one of Georgia’s Own. As part of our next offer, enjoy discounted tickets to Snow Mountain* at Stone Mountain Park in January and February.
As member of Georgia’s Own, get a Snow Pass for a special rate of $22 on the Sundays listed. From snowman building to snowball shooting, tubing to togetherness, enjoy all the moments that will make for the perfect snow day. Each pass includes a two-hour tubing session and all-day access to Snowzone and Little Angels.
- January 22nd
- January 29th
- February 5th
- February 12th
- February 26th
To take advantage of this offer, click here. Capacity is limited. Advance reservations required to guarantee your space.
#MemberAppreciationMonday is one way that Georgia’s Own is working to surprise and delight our members. Please check back the first Monday of each month for a new offer or discount.