Getting married is an exciting time for couples and their families. It's a time to celebrate the love of two people coming together as one. From bridal showers to dress shopping and the other intricate details leading up to the big day, most couples spend a significant amount of time planning for their wedding with little to no time planning for their financial future together. After the wedding bells stop ringing, reality kicks in, and a new life as a married couple begins.
If the money talk didn't occur before marriage, it should be a top priority soon after the wedding. Married couples usually have different values, beliefs, and fears surrounding finances which can cause conflicts, stress, and misunderstandings if not discussed and worked out early in the marriage. The sooner you and your spouse have the money talk, the better it will be for your relationship and financial future.
There's no one set way for managing marital finances. However, joining finances or keeping them separate is a critical decision couples have to make early on in their marriage. When couples combine their finances, they reap the benefits of building their savings, paying down debt, buying a new home, and saving for retirement. However, the key for every marriage is to find a system that creates a financial foundation that helps lead them to a successful financial future.
Here are a few tips to help you join your finances after you say, "I do."
How are you going to handle your finances? How are you going to plan for retirement? Will you have separate or joint accounts? Will you combine your debt? Communication is one of the main ingredients for a successful marriage. The money talk can be one of the most difficult conversations you'll have with your spouse. Most of the time, someone (if not both) will come into the marriage with some financial baggage, whether it's student loans or credit card debt.
Having an honest discussion about finances may feel uncomfortable, but it's crucial to the health of the relationship. The ultimate goal is to get on the same page and work together to establish and accomplish your financial plan.
It's not only important to talk about finances before and after you're married, but it's also essential to have regular conversations or check-ins throughout your marriage, especially if goals and situations change. Be creative and make this time fun. For example, schedule a "money date" to discuss your finances.
Budgeting can be overwhelming and challenging for anyone, but when you combine finances as a couple, it can be even more stressful. A budget is a detailed plan for how you want to spend your money. There are many budgets, such as the 50-30-20 budget, zero-sum budget, line-item budget, and envelope budget. The key to successful budgeting is to find a method that's easy to manage, works best for your household, and fits both your personalities.
If you agree that one spouse will manage the budget, both of you should stay in the loop of what's going on with the finances. This will keep you both accountable. You would also have the opportunity to agree on any changes or suggestions for making the budget work for your family.
In most relationships, there's a saver and a spender. The saver wants to ensure they're saving money and being conscientious about their spending. The spender wants to spend, spend, spend with little to no thought about the impact of their spending habits.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. However, the key is to find a nice balance between the two. When the saver and spender come together, they can play off each other's strengths and weaknesses to build and maintain their financial foundation.
You may be wondering if you should have joint accounts, separate accounts, or a combination of the two. There's no set rule for how you should handle your accounts. You may decide that it works best for your household to have a joint savings account and checking account and each spouse to have their own individual checking account for their personal expenses. It's just a matter of what works best for you and your spouse.
Now that you've created a budget together, it's an excellent time to decide which bills each of you will pay. You'll want to be clear on who's responsible for making payments on which bills to eliminate any confusion on who's handling what and to ensure the bills are getting paid. Once you've decided who's paying what, you should consider automating your bills to ensure they are paid on time and to avoid potential late fees.
Do you want to purchase a new home together? Do you plan to build an emergency fund? Do you want to take an annual vacation? Couples need to have financial goals and should create a plan for their long-term and short-time finances.
For example, consider making plans for retirement savings, building an emergency fund, saving for a new home, or paying off debt. Having a financial plan will ensure you and your spouse are on the same page with your goals and will help keep your finances on the right track.
While combining finances may seem like a daunting task, it's a necessary one for the success of your financial life together. The key is to figure out what works best for your relationship and how you and your spouse can work towards accomplishing your goals. When you decide to work together in your marriage whether it’s with your finances or raising a family, it will make you a stronger and happier couple.