Getting married is exciting — but it also means a great deal of change, including a transition to making joint financial decisions. It takes time to get used to the idea of “our money” instead of “my money.” This process has the potential for stress, but through communication, compromise and collaboration, you can keep from letting money matters interfere with marital bliss.
While a couple is dating, discussing money may seem distasteful. But before wedding bells ring, it’s a crucial to have an open conversation about the state of your financial affairs. If one partner has unpaid debts or bad credit, it’s important that the other person is aware of that. It’s also vital that each spouse be completely open and honest regarding their financial perspectives and opinions. Starting a marriage with this level of transparency will set the stage for future success and continued communication. Once you’ve both voiced your points of view, consider what was said and make a joint decision whether you want to combine your finances. Remember, there’s no immediate need to combine your assets, and every couple is different. Sometimes it’s best to wait and work toward an eventual goal of combining your assets.
In the process of determining whether to combine financial assets, it is essential to discuss your spending habits. If one spouse tends to overspend and make impulse purchases, while the other is more frugal and savings-oriented, combining assets could create a huge source of discontent. Be honest about spending habits, and use your strengths and weaknesses to balance each other out. Some couples find it helpful to meet with a financial counselor who can help facilitate an open and honest dialogue about money matters.
If you and your partner do decide to combine assets, start small. Rather than immediately pouring all your money into one account, start with a joint savings account. Maintaining some sense of financial independence will ease the process. One way to do this is to maintain separate checking accounts, and have each partner deposit a percentage of their paycheck into a joint savings account intended to cover household necessities. This arrangement is a great way for newly-married couples to start sharing financial responsibilities.
Work Together & Set Shared Goals
The best way to create a successful marriage and financial future is to work together. Talk to each other about your goals. Do you want to buy a house? If so, what do you need to do make that happen? Similar topics for discussion include retirement, savings goals, and estate planning. Acting as partners in the financial process can be economically and personally rewarding. Once you’ve set a shared objective, set specific savings goals and create an timeline. Having a partner in the saving process will help keep both parties on track, and act as a motivator for meeting each goal in a timely manner.
Have weekly or monthly financial discussions, during which you can review bank statements, upcoming financial commitments and future goals. These meetings can help you stay on track toward accomplishing your fiscal goals as a married couple.