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6 Essential tips for merging finances with your new spouse

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

Bank accounts shouldn't stand between you and your spouse

Don’t let money be your main source of conflict when getting married. Here’s how to successfully merge your finances with your other half.

1. Talk about it

We all know the key to a successful relationship is communication. When handling finances, this is especially important. Together, discuss what each of you thinks is best for how you go about finances. Will you only have one account that’s shared? Do you want to have one shared account along with separate accounts? Or is it best if you only keep separate accounts and each pay for half of everything? Every couple is different. Decide together what’s best for your situation, and be willing to compromise.

Matt Becker, founder of Mom and Dad Money, states that you have to focus on your goals. "The actual mechanics of joining your finances are a lot less important than making sure you're on the same page in terms of long-term goals. You're building a life together, and the main focus needs to be on using your money to build the life you want, not whose name is on what account," he shares.

2. Have a weekly meeting

Whichever method you and your spouse choose (separate accounts, joint account or both), have a weekly meeting to make sure you’re on the same page. My husband and I discuss our finances on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This ensures that there are no "surprise" purchases. We also have our own separate credit cards, but we tell each other before making a purchase (out of respect, we don’t "ask" each other if we can buy things).

3. Work together to get out of debt

Debt is a huge stressor in marriages. If one or both of you are bringing debt into the marriage (student loans, car loans or credit cards), make a plan together to get out of it. Also, other than a mortgage, try not to add to your debt or get into debt together. Yes, brand new furniture may seem appealing, but will you want to still be paying for it five years down the road? Probably not.

4. Save together

It feels good to set goals and accomplish them with your spouse. It shows you’re on the same team and working together to create the life you want. Set up a savings account in both of your names and commit to saving each month. Start out small and set small goals. Small amounts become large amounts, and it’s nice going to bed each night knowing you’ve, together, set aside money for an emergency or rainy day.

5. Create a budget

Creating a budget will force you and your spouse to be on the same page. For example, I know my husband isn’t just going to go blow $100 at a bar one night. We budget all of our money every time we’re paid. If he wants to go to a bar and spend his free money, than great. But it’s a nice feeling knowing he’s not taking out of bill money or savings money to have fun, and neither am I.

5 Common budget missteps for young couples >>

6.Give and take — but mainly give

Remember, you’re married now. Life is completely different in all areas, especially money, than when you were single. You may not be able to get weekly manicures or daily coffees anymore, and that’s OK. You and your spouse are working on building a life together, so be willing to make some sacrifices for the benefit of your future and your marriage. Becker goes on to share, "We all have our own habits and our own preferences, and no matter how compatible you are with your spouse, he/she will have some different habits and different preferences. Approach those differences with respect and be willing to try the things that make your spouse comfortable. There's always more than one way to a goal." Sure, marriage can be give and take, but if you think of it as just giving, you’ll wind up a heck of a lot happier and fulfilled.

More on finances

The biggest financial issues families face
How to become financially fit in 5 easy steps
The wealthy are more likely to use coupons, ironically

Photo credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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