NEW YORK (MainStreet) Although 42% of individuals in relationships that have joint checking or savings accounts also maintain individual accounts, Millennials are less likely to wait until marriage to join finances relative to their older counterparts, according to a new report.
"It may be indicative of shifts in generational norms," said Lindsay Sacknoff, senior vice president and head of retail deposit products at TD Bank. "They should take the time to do their research and find an account that is aligned with their current circumstances."
That could include having a bank account affiliated with a mortgage or home equity provider to earn a rate discount or having an account with a low minimum balance to avoid monthly fees.
"Besides budgeting, there are other benefits as some banks give account holders perks like higher interest rates if they maintain and link up multiple products," Sacknoff told MainStreet.
A TD Bank study found that only 70% of Millennial couples waited until marriage to start a joint account compared to 88% of couples 55 years and older.
"If the funds in an individual account are part of a well thought out budget that's communicated between partners, it can be a great tool to make sure that each individual has money available for purchases that they want to make independently," said Sacknoff.
To explore how couples of all ages structure their bank accounts. TD surveyed more than a thousand Americans who are either married or living with a significant other.
Both Gen-Xers between the ages of 35 and 54 and Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 in relationships ranked independence as the top reason for maintaining individual accounts, but for Millennials, convenience was of secondary importance compared to Gen-X'ers who cited personal spending and emergencies.
"Since a joint account is normally indicative of a life event like moving in together or marriage, it's the perfect time to stop by your local bank," Sacknoff said.
However, 30% of consumers have not visited a bank or credit union branch in at least six months, according to a Bankrate study. ATM transactions however were not included in the study.
"Consumers are increasingly migrating to online and mobile banking particularly for routine transactions such as deposits or transfers between accounts," said Greg McBride, a chief financial analyst with BankRate.
Some 53% of retirees only visited a branch once in the past 30 days compared to 42% of Millennials.
"It isn't as big a gap as perhaps many expected," McBride told MainStreet. "One-in-five retirees haven't been to a branch in over a year, indicating that many are just as comfortable banking online as they are using social media to keep up with the grandkids."
The data indicates that with half of Americans visiting a branch in the past 30 days, branches are here to stay for now.
"Over time I expect consumers will increasingly use branches for consultation on things like 401(k) rollovers, retirement and college savings," said McBride.
Bankrate.com also reported that its Financial Security Index rose past 100 with 27% reporting a higher net worth than last year. Readings above 100 indicate higher financial security than the previous year.
"The rebound in the housing market and strong stock market performance over the past 12 months has increased household net worth, despite sluggish job growth and stagnant incomes," McBride said.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet