When you’re dating, you often have to negotiate the question of whether or not to merge your finances. What are each of you comfortable with, what are each of you responsible for and so on. However, marriage comes with some legal ties that you’ll need to navigate in a different way. We’ve pulled together some tips and things to think about when merging your finances.
People are getting married later than ever, and this might mean you’re going into it with more assets than you might have at 22. There is absolutely nothing weird or wrong about getting a prenuptial agreement to hash some of that out before you tie the knot.
Joint Accounts are Still a Choice
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’re required to only have joint bank accounts. You get to decide whether you want only joint, only separate or a combination of the two.
The First Conversation Might be the Hardest
If you haven’t had an in-depth conversation about what you each feel about merging finances, you might be feeling a little anxious. It’s way better to have each of you lay your cards on the table early on than to assume you’re both on the same page.
It’s important that your potential (or current) spouse is aware of your debts. This includes a mortgage or car payment, student loans, personal loans, credit card debt and anything else that puts the two of you in the red.
Have a Plan for Different Approaches
If one of you thinks that savings should be spent on travel and the other thinks it should go into a retirement account, you’re going to need to have a plan for how to compromise.
Just because someone else has a different approach to money doesn’t mean they’re necessarily wrong. Some people simply prioritize certain things over others. Judgement isn’t going to get you anywhere, but a frank conversation may.
You can’t just expect to have one conversation about your merged finances and expect that to be enough until death do you part. Set regular check ins to talk about your goals.
Know Which of You is the Money Person
It’s very likely that only one of you will enjoy or excel at handling the finances. This also prevents bills from falling through the cracks because you thought the other person took care of it. Declare which of you is responsible for the financial chores.
Some people need to have rules in place to limit their spending. Others need rules so that they actually feel comfortable spending anything. Create a set of rules that you both agree to.
Track your Money
Having a good handle of where your money is going lets you know when someone isn’t keeping to the rules — or when the rules aren’t working well.