- Life & Money
- Family & Work
- Your Family
- Marianne Hayes
- Aug 12, 2022
What to Discuss Before You Combine Finances After Marriage
As you and your significant other prepare to get married, it’s only natural to think about how you want to commingle your money.
The degree to which you combine finances with your future spouse is a personal choice; some couples choose to blend all their income into joint accounts, while others feel more comfortable maintaining a little — or a lot — of autonomy.
Before you decide what works for you as a couple, asking yourself these questions can help.
Questions to ask before combining your finances
How do you like to budget?
Maybe you’re the type who likes detailed spreadsheets, while your spouse prefers quick check-ins on an app. When discussing the details, you might conclude that you and your partner have different spending and budgeting styles (opposites attract, right?). Share the ways you each have individually managed your money up to this point, and how helpful it’s actually been in tracking your spending and saving. Particularly if joint accounts are in your future, decide if one method works best for you both — or if one person has a natural affinity for it, letting them take the lead on managing the budget.
What financial goals are important to you?
Day-to-day spending aside, you’ll also want to think about your short- and long-term financial goals. Hopefully, both of you are saving for retirement in either a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA) already (although you may need to adjust your contributions based on the type of retirement you envision together).
On top of that, discuss and prioritize what else is important to you. Is one person laser-focused on paying down debt, while the other wants to save for a vacation? What are you both proactively saving for now that you have in common, and what do you want to save for in the future? The answers can help you determine whether it makes sense to keep some goals separate and while working jointly on others.
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How often should we discuss our finances?
Hopefully, you’ve already had at least one serious money talk and have a sense of other’s income, debt, credit scores, money habits and anything else that could impact your financial future together.
But your money conversations should be ongoing, particularly as your life and goals change. Ask each other how often it makes sense to check in on both everyday expenses and longer-term goals. You’ll also want to figure out an amount of money you both feel comfortable spending without having to inform the other person, so you don’t feel like you're committing financial infidelity: In a recent survey, nearly 4 in 10 people admitted to hiding purchases and other bills from their partner.
The idea is to put judgment aside, create a safe space to share and be honest about whether you’re comfortable with a total or partial commingling of expenses and accounts. This can help you come up with an action plan for your finances that’s built on honesty and respect.
A financial advisor can help you get on the same page
Getting married shows that you’re in it for the long haul. That includes making big financial decisions together, like buying a home, having kids or how you’ll spend your retirement. That’s a lot of moving parts, and an experienced financial advisor can provide personalized guidance for you and your spouse as you move through different phases of your life and try to navigate your goals together.
Blending finances with your spouse is a big step. No matter how you decide to do so, clear and ongoing communication is a crucial part of living happily ever after.