How To Merge Your Finances
While getting married is a celebration of two lives joining together as one, combining your finances may not be so seamless.
It can be tricky to bring two different money mindsets together, no matter how much you love each other. And while it helps to be financially compatible, if you work together to communicate about your finances, you should be able to make things work. Most importantly, remember that good communication can help prevent you from making financial mistakes when you are first married.
Read on for our guide on how to combine finances once you're married, from how to set a budget, open a joint account, share financial milestones, even talk about money openly. Yes, it is possible.
Talk Openly About Your Financial Situations
First, you should have an open discussion about your finances. This is a time when you list all of your current debts, any issues on your credit report, any savings or investment accounts you have, and yes, even your salary.
When you get married you are taking on each other’s debt and assets, so it's important to know all the information, both good and bad.
Plan a Combined Budget
Plan out a budget. No matter how much money you make, you should always have a monthly budget. That way, you'll know exactly where every dollar is going.
What type of budget you and your spouse select is up to you. There's the envelope system, the cash-only budget, even a computer or app-based budget. What's important is that you are both on board with the budget, and that it works for your lifestyle. It's also wise to allot money that either one of you can spend, no questions asked. This way, you don't feel totally deprived.
Set Goals Together and Create a Financial Plan
Take the time to set goals together. These financial goals will help you and your partner be on the same page, and working toward the same goal. Whether that's buying a new home, investing more robustly, or renovating the house, the end goal isn't as important. Rather, it's important that you agree on your financial priorities and are working on them together.
You may also want to think about if or when you have children. If you plan on having one spouse stay home, then you will need to adjust your finances now to accommodate that in the future. You may also want to prepare yourselves to begin saving for a college education in a savings goal like a 529.
Plan Weekly Budget Meetings
As a couple, it's also wise to have monthly or weekly budget meetings. Set up a system that keeps you both informed of the due dates of bills or any direct deposits, what is allocated toward your long-term financial goal(s) each month, and how much discretionary spending is left over.
You should set up direct debit or pay bills together, as well as keep track of miscellaneous spendings or large purchases. While they don't seem like a lot of fun, these meetings will help you to stay on track.
Open a Joint Account
When you combine finances, you should probably open a joint checking account that you both have access to and can easily monitor. That way, paying bills and sticking to a budget will be much easier, since you are both fully informed.
Shop around for a bank that you both like or go to a credit union. When you open a new account, be sure to change all your direct deposits and debits over to the new account.
Troubleshooting Issues with Money in Your Marriage
If your spouse refuses to combine finances, you will need to set up two separate household budgets to cover the shared costs. You should also learn why your spouse does not want to combine finances and work to address those issues together.
Additionally, there may be times when you should not combine finances. For example, if your spouse has addiction or gambling issues, you should wait to combine finances until things are under control. If this is the case, you should likely seek counseling together to work throughout the larger issue.
Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero.