Getting Married? Tips on Combining Finances
Congratulations, you’re getting married! What a wonderful and joyous time in your life. Now more than ever it is time to sit down with your partner and discuss something that may or may not be so joyous, your finances. But do not fret, this discussion can be a great opportunity for you to plan out your future together. Below are some things to keep in mind while consolidating finances.
Discuss Money Relationships
By now you should have a pretty good understanding of how your future spouse deals with money. Some of us like to save, while others are big impulse spenders. It is important that before you walk down that aisle the two of you should discuss the potential negative consequences of spending habits and arrive at a workable solution.
Request Credit Scores
Did you know that every person is allowed one free credit report a year? You and your spouse should both request a credit report to review and discuss. These reports will give you an idea of how much debt you both have going into the marriage, history of late payments, etc.
Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to see how you can get your free annual credit report!
List All Income and Expenses
Developing and maintaining a budget together is a great way to sustain a healthy relationship with money in your marriage. When you plan for monthly expenses and set a corrective action plan for any debt-related issues a lot of stress can be lifted from you, your spouse, and your relationship. Start by looking at pay stubs, account statements, monthly bills, and debt obligations to set up your budget. You can make your own monthly budget or find a great template online, such as the one DIFS created!
Decide Who Pays What
Now that you have an established budget, it is time for you and your spouse to decide who pays what! Here are three popular approaches:
- “All for One and One for All”
Like many couples, you and your spouse may decide to combine incomes together and treat all expenses and debt obligations as one.
- “Pick and Choose”
After discussion, you and your spouse may agree to assign certain payments to one or the other. For example, if one of you has student loans or credit card debt that existed before the marriage, that spouse may feel it’s their responsibility to pay off those debts themselves.
Another popular option is to pay ongoing expenses based on income. For example, if one of you has earned income that equals 60% of household income, then that spouse would be responsible for 60% of expenses relating to the household.
Open Bank Accounts
Whether you and your spouse choose to completely combine your finances or keep some accounts separate, consider opening joint checking and savings accounts. For checking accounts, keep in mind that if neither of you has credit-related problems, then both of your names can be on the account. If one of you has poor credit, you may choose to have your account in only one name.
For savings accounts, you may consider opening an account together that can be considered an “emergency or rainy-day fund.” The goal is to have enough saved in this account to handle an unplanned event or emergency. The two of you together can arrive at a monthly amount to save that is affordable and sustainable. Typically, three months of earned income is recommended.
Do you or your spouse have IRAs? Annuities and life insurance policies? If so, you want to review and update the beneficiary information once you are married. You will also need to name your spouse as the beneficiary if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Pay Yourselves First
When planning your family budget do not forget the most important part, paying yourself first! It is crucial to take care of your future selves now by contributing to your employer-sponsored retirement plan and/or IRA. Every dollar you save now may provide you with several dollars in the future that you can use to maintain your lifestyle in retirement years. It is generally recommended that you contribute a minimum of 15% of your combined gross pay, or other maximum amount allowed by the IRS.
To learn more about money management or DIFS visit our website.