Marriage and Managing Finances
Summer is a season for weddings. You’ve probably given a lot of thought to your dress, venue and theme. However, what you plan to do with your finances once you’re married may not have crossed your mind yet. You’ve each had our own individual way of how you managed money, and when it’s time to come together those ideas may not mesh right away.
The Money Talk
Talks about money can be one of the more difficult discussions to have in any relationship. Money troubles are a huge cause of stress and conflict and can often lead to disagreements. It may not sound very romantic, but it’s good to clear the air and plan now. Before you decide whether to combine your accounts, you should discuss a few of these financial topics first…
Debts and Credit
You each have a financial past. How much do you owe? Before merging your accounts, you many need to work on paying off or paying down any debts your accumulated. While getting married doesn’t have a direct impact on your credit score, if you’re planning to buy a home together a lower score from one spouse can affect the interest rate you may qualify for.
Paying the Bills
Will one of you be in charge of paying the bills? Both of you? While delegating one person to the role may be a good idea to make sure all bills get paid, make sure you both still know what’s going on and make the money decisions together.
Create a Budget
If you both know what money is coming in and going out, you can now start to plan and save for emergencies or retirement, or how you’ll pay down debts. You should also discuss the amount of personal spending you will each get, and how you’ll pay for any large purchases (and what is considered a large purchase). Since you may have different ideas of what that dollar amount may be, getting on the same page can save you from a future argument.
Discuss and Decide on Bank Accounts
You have a few options when it comes to how you handle your accounts. You can choose to keep them separate, merge them together, or even a combination of the two.
Keeping Your Accounts Separate
If you prefer to keep your spending habits to yourselves, maintaining your own accounts may be the best path for you as a couple. You can still divvy up the monthly expenses and delegate who pays each one. This allows each of you to manage your money independently. However, it can make paying the bills a little more complicated and will still take communication about each other’s spending. If one of you is a spender, and the other a saver this may be a preferred option until you can get on the same page with how you budget.
Creating a Joint Household Account
Maybe you just want a little independence? Creating a joint account for your household allows you each to contribute to expenses that can be paid out of one account. You’ll both be able to see what’s being paid and can each write out checks or make payments if something was to happen to the other. You can also easily setup automatic transfers from your accounts, so you know the money is there every month, taking a little stress off the financials.
Merging your Money
If you decide to setup a single joint account, then any bills, spending money, and all other purchases will come from this account. Consider setting up a joint checking account to pay your bills, and a joint savings account to set aside money for emergencies, vacations, retirement, etc. Make sure you both take responsibility for monitoring your joint account and discuss your spending on a regular basis to stay on track.
If you are creating any kind of joint account, make sure you each bring proper identification. Your bank will need that to add your spouse to the shared accounts.
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