You’ve done the really hard part and found someone special to spend the rest of your life with. Congratulations!
Now, let’s set aside the wedding planning and honeymoon dreaming for a bit and talk about combining finances.
Merging bank accounts and financial lives isn’t exactly pillow talk, of course, but it’s a necessary discussion for prospective brides and grooms who really want to live out the “until death do us part” piece of their vows.
Money issues and arguments, after all, according to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, come in as the No. 3 leading cause of divorce right behind “incompatibility” and “infidelity.”
So, what’s the best way for engaged and newly married couples to figure out what combining finances looks like?
Money can be a tricky topic for people -- even couples who get all googly eyes as they map out their lives together. In fact, one study by Fidelity found that 43 percent of people said they didn’t know how much their partner earned -- and another 10 percent were off by $25,000 or more. That’s bad news.
Set aside some time to talk together as a couple about your financial lives. Don’t hold back. Share it all. Need some talking points? We covered the five money questions you should ask your significant other.
There’s no right or wrong way for combining finances. Not every couple completely merges theirs. Some maintain separate accounts. Others hold on to personal accounts and create a joint account too.
There are pros and cons to each option. Couples must pick the best solution for them.
Here are a few things to consider in each situation:
Complete Financial Merger
Completely combining finances makes it easy to pay the bills and quickly get a big picture view of your family’s finances because all your income and expenses are together. The key, however, is communication, especially if you’re frugal and your other half is a big spender -- or vice versa. Be sure to communicate budgets, spending, goals and savings plans and keep that conversation going.
Independence is the big benefit when you keep your finances separate. In fact, 38 percent of people in relationships who maintain separate accounts say they do it for the autonomy, according to a survey by TD Bank. Still, even if your finances are separate, your bills won’t be. So, you’ll need to come up with a plan for how you’ll cover those expenses that you share together.
Together and Separate
In this scenario, you get take a little of each approach -- combining finances, but not completely. You have easy access to a joint pot of money for bills and financial planning, along with the knowledge that you still have some money that’s all your own in a separate account. Some couples who do it this way start out by depositing all their income into one account and then moving an agreed upon amount of money out into their own accounts, which they can use as they wish.
Whatever option you choose, the key to combining finances is open conversation, ongoing dialogue, and a whole lot of trust.
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