Money isn’t the most exciting topic of conversation, but having a solid plan when it comes to your budget and married finances will set you up for all sorts of stability and success in the future. The topic comes with lots of questions, from whether or not you should join your bank accounts to how to put together (and stick to) a budget. We turned to the experts to fill us in on the basics of married finances, and how to make sure you and your partner are on the same page.
“Choosing whether or not to combine your finances as a couple is a personal decision that is specific to each couple’s needs,” says Matt Reiner, CFA, CFP, and CEO and co-founder of personal financial planning app Wela. “Some people feel more comfortable having their finances separate. Personally, I tell people that life is stressful enough—if you have the chance to simplify things, do it! By combining accounts, you’re simplifying your finances as a couple.” We asked Reiner to break down the pros and cons of combined bank accounts. “The pros of combining finances are the simplicity,” he says, “as well as the potential opportunity to gain greater benefits by having your accounts combined. This could be in the form of faster accrual and easier use of credit card points or better costs and interest rates because the account has more funds in it. The cons come into play if you don’t truly know your spouse’s spending habits. If their habits are worse than you were led to believe, this could impact your credit and your future savings.”
So, when’s the best time to head to the bank and join those accounts? “Just to be safe, I’d wait until everything’s signed, sealed, and delivered,” Reiner advises. “You have enough to worry about when planning the wedding! You’ll also want to use your married names when joining accounts, for which you’ll need your marriage certificate, updated social security cards, etc.”
What about a married life budget? “The best way to start…