The knot has been tied. The toasts have been made. The presents opened.
Every wedding is different. Every couple is different. And each half of every couple is also different. But, when it comes to combining finances, the rules are the same as anything else in marriage: Compromise. Compromise. Compromise.
Did you know that one-third of married couples admit to arguing about finances once a month? And 21 percent of divorced couples mention “money problems” as a reason for separating. That sounds gloomy, but don’t stress. Because you and your significant other are smart enough to consider and research whether combining your finances is the best route to your financial goals as a couple.
It’s a good idea to think about how to manage finances in marriage right from the start. Naturally, it would be wise to get some of this financial planning accomplished before you get married, but anytime is a good time to sit down and calmly discuss your financial situation in your relationship.
Before you discuss your long-term financial goals, you each need to be frank and honest about your current personal finance situations. We all come with debts and assets.
Good questions to ask yourselves before combining finances:
Remember, you aren’t required to hand over these things to your spouse. You can continue to keep them in a separate, individual account. But together, you may be able to tackle the debts with ideas like getting a personal loan for debt consolidation. Or you might work out a plan where one — or each of you — finds an opportunity to earn a little extra cash through part time work to pay off those bills.
At this point, it’s good to create a balance sheet of your total combined debts and assets and update it periodically. Salaries, accounts, and bills fluctuate. Eliminating surprises is important to your combined peace of mind.
Newlyweds often have the common goal of wanting to buy a home, a new car, or take a romantic vacation together. It’s great to dream together. It’s even better to put a plan behind that dream.
So, now’s the time to think of yourselves as a financial team. Designate who will be the key player for each position. Is one of you better at organization, a born bill-payer, and great with keeping track of receipts for taxes? Maybe the other is better at researching financial options, finding a financial planner, or creating a budget.
Discuss your current financial habits. Are you frugal? A habitual spender? Do you get a rush from saving money with new tactics or paying off a bill?
Now is the perfect time to work together to get to where you want to be when it comes to money. Accept your position in the financial game and play to the best of your ability. Now and then, take a time-out to reassess where you are and make any adjustments in your responsibilities.
Nothing is set in stone. It’s important to work together to decide what’s the right financial plan for your partnership currently.
Some couples would rather keep separate checking and credit card accounts, then split joint bills like mortgage payments and power bills right down the middle. Select which one of you will be responsible for totaling the bills, collecting payments, and making sure bills are paid on time to avoid racking up debt.
Perhaps the two of you would rather lump everything together and combine your finances into joint checking and savings bank accounts. Once again, designate who is responsible for making bill payments on time. Many couples prefer to have separate accounts and pay their own bills along with the bills they agree to pay for the household. Maybe the bigger breadwinner will take care of the rent or mortgage, while the other spouse takes care of smaller expenses. Keep in mind, it’s always smart to have both of your names on each of your separate accounts in case the other needs access in an emergency.
You can keep your finances separate even after you are married. This can be a benefit if you want to keep your spouse’s credit score separate from yours when one of you makes a big purchase. Combining accounts can seem like a big step when you’re first married, but you can always make changes gradually as you get more comfortable with each other’s spending habits and your joint needs.
As you start your lives together as a married couple, it can be all too easy to put off deciding how to organize your finances, pay off debt, start retirement planning, and save for future goals like children
When it comes to learning how to manage finances in a marriage, it’s important to have conversations regularly. Once a week or once a month, set a time to have a discussion together that is calm and productive with no distractions. Come prepared, just as you would for any business meeting, with topics that you need to cover, and let your spouse know upfront what you’d like to discuss.
These meetings can make all the difference in the world. It’s better to have organized discussions rather than texting each other reminders throughout the day. “Hey, we need to make that credit card payment soon,” probably won’t go far in the middle of a workday.
People are passionate about their money, so remember to keep the tone friendly and positive. Don’t spring into a financial problem right off the bat. If things get heated, set a length of time that each person can speak — say five or ten minutes each – with no interruptions.
Once you’re done discussing, plan a little celebration as a reward for “adulting” together!
References used on January 25, 2022
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