Combining Finances after Marriage
While managing finances as an individual can be challenging enough, adding another person into the mix can make things even more confusing. However, combining finances after marriage has plenty of advantages if you think strategically. Communication and planning are key measures to ensuring a solid financial future for both of you, and the first step is to do your research. Check out our guide below, and learn how to combine your finances in a way that works well for both of you.
Pros and Cons
Combining finances after marriage can be complicated. Instead of dealing with one set of investments and debts, now you have two sets to handle. This can be a good and bad thing. If one partner has a great deal of credit card debt, for example, the responsibility is now on both partners in the relationship. However, merging assets can also be a benefit. Maybe one partner is a perpetual saver and the other is a pro at managing credit. You can figure out ways to use each others' strengths in a way that lifts you both up.
When to Start Planning
If you're in the middle of planning your wedding, financial planning may not be on the forefront of your mind. But, many couples start the process long before the big day. It's important to sit down to talk about financial concerns - especially for engaged, married, and cohabiting couples. The more you know about your money situation, the better off you'll be.
Topics to Consider
So you've set up a meeting to discuss your finances. What are the important things to cover?
- Debt: Do you want to maintain separate credit cards or do you want to share an account? Consider authorizing an additional user to share cards, but remember that you'll share the responsibility for any debts accrued. You might utilize services like title loans or cash advances to start with a clean slate.
- Beneficiaries: If you have life insurance policies or retirement accounts connected to work, talk to HR about updating your beneficiary information and emergency contact if needed.
- Taxes: Do you want to file together or separately? There are pros and cons to either method, but you need to come to an agreement ahead of time. Also, consider talking to HR about tax withholding if needed.
- Budget: Some people already have a budget coming into the marriage, while other couples need to start from scratch. It's a good idea to go through your current accounts like streaming services, cell phone services, and others to make sure you don't pay twice for the same thing.
- Savings: Finally, don't forget to save! Many advisors recommend saving 10 percent of your combined net income for emergencies, while homeowners might want to bump up that figure to 15 or 20 percent to cover household expenses (e.g. furniture, appliances, repairs).