Marriage changes everything. Of course it does. Most of us are not just sharing vows, closet-space and toothbrushes. We’re also sharing our money. And combining finances is something that can test even the best-natured of couples. Getting on the same financial page from the start can help you live a life of monetary harmony. Here are a few things to consider.
Do two bank accounts also become one?Separate accounts or joint accounts? There’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on your personal needs – and more importantly, your personalities. For many couples, a combination of separate and joint accounts works well. You can pay for shared expenses – rent, groceries, utilities – out of the joint account, and the separate accounts provide a degree of independence for both of you.Budget, budget, budget Maintaining a household budget is a smart idea for anyone. But for newlyweds who are still adjusting to shared financial responsibilities and learning each other’s spending patterns, it’s especially important. Each of you will probably bring both assets and debts into the relationship – and merging them will be easier if you set up a budget. Find ways to cut costs by combining expenses like wireless plans. Understand where your money is going, and set joint goals.Protection for twoMarriage changes the way you look at insurance and estate planning. Suddenly, you’ve got someone else who depends on you and your income. If you both work, you may want to consider term life insurance as a way to protect each other’s earning potential. Disability coverage could be even more important, since the odds of being injured during your working years are generally higher than dying. Look at your separate health insurance plans and see if it makes sense to keep separate coverage or to combine forces and whether you can enroll without waiting for an open enrollment period.Don’t be retiring about retirementIf you have employer retirement plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), pensions or other retirement accounts, you may want to update the beneficiary designations. If you’ll be filing a joint tax return, there are advantages to both of you contributing to retirement accounts. And with two people contributing, you may have a better chance of reaching your retirement goals.Keep talkingBeing up front with your financial goals and fears sets the stage for an ongoing, open dialog. Recognize that your spouse may see money differently from you and respect that. Wherever you’re coming from, we can help you find the middle ground and work toward establishing common financial goals.
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