The Challenges of Coupling Two Financial Lives
Blending bank accounts
Separate accounts or joint accounts? There’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on your personal needs and your personalities. For many couples, a combination of separate and joint accounts works well. You can pay for shared family expenses—rent, groceries, utilities—out of the joint account. The separate accounts provide both independence and control, which can be particularly important for women.
Getting on the same financial plan page from the start can help you live a life of monetary harmony.
Budgets keep you on track
Maintaining a household budget is smart planning for anyone, but especially for newlyweds who are still adjusting to sharing financial responsibilities and learning each other’s spending patterns. Each of you will 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 two
Marriage completely alters the way you look at insurance and estate planning. Suddenly, you’ve got someone who depends on you and your income. If you both work, you may want to consider term life insurance as an affordable way to protect each other’s earning potential. Disability coverage may be even more important since the odds of being injured during your working years are generally higher than dying. Look at your health insurance coverage through each employer and see if it makes sense to keep separate coverage or to combine forces. Marriage is an event that may allow you to enroll in an employer’s health insurance plan without waiting for an open enrollment period.
Saving for retirement
If one or both of you have employer retirement plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), pensions or other retirement accounts, you’ll want to update the beneficiary designations. If you’ll be filing a joint tax return, consider the tax advantages of having both of you contribute to retirement accounts. With two people contributing, you’ll have a better chance of reaching your shared retirement goals.
Being up front about your desires and fears and how you’re going to manage your finances sets the stage for an ongoing open dialog. Recognize that your spouse may see money slightly differently from you and respect that. We can assist you in finding the middle ground that will give you the best opportunity for shared financial growth.