THE DOS AND DON’TS OF MERGING FINANCES AS A COUPLE
Marriage is a union of hearts, souls, belongings, Netflix passwords, and of course, finances. When it comes to spending the rest of your lives together, it turns out a successful co-mingling of monetary assets is just as important to long term stability as never going to bed angry.
Dr. Charles Schmitz, who along with his wife, is a love and marriage expert and co-author of Building A Love That Lasts, shared his key tips with LOVE&. “Money is the number one cause of stress in a marriage,” he says. “Once you solve your financial issues you can focus on what really matters—being in love.”
In order to help you focus on all the lovey-dovey stuff, we put together a list of dos and don’ts to make your financial and marital future pure bliss. And, surprise! The secrets to a happy financial future aren’t all that different from the keys to a happy marriage.
DO be honest with your partner.
Like any relationship, the most important factor in making your mutual finances work is honest communication. It’s not the most romantic conversation, but you and your partner need to discuss your assets, debts, and spending habits.
“Open and regular communication about all financial goals, choices, and commitments is the only way to form consensus,” says Schmitz.
DO plan for the future.
While spontaneity spices up a relationship, the best strategy to ensuring your financial future is to make a realistic budget plan and stick to it. Budgets should detail your monthly income, expenses, debt payments, and emergency and retirement funds.
DO work as a team.
Marriage is the ultimate partnership, which means doing just about everything together, including making financial decisions. “Get on the same page as your spouse,” says Schmitz. “Teamwork is the key.”
DO find a balance between couple-hood and individualism.
Even though you love your partner, you could always use a little “me time.” This same idea applies to the decision whether or not to merge bank accounts. Most experts recommend that when choosing between creating a joint bank account or keeping your funds separate the best solution is compromise.
Joint bank accounts should be used to keep money for household expenditures and savings. Not only does this make paying household expenses infinitely easier, it is also a sign of the new partnership you are forging.
However, for those who need their space, there is room for some autonomy. While joint accounts cover household costs, experts suggest keeping separate accounts for personal spending. That way you won’t always have to justify why you withdrew money for a new pair of shoes, the Game of Thrones DVD box set, or the round of shots you bought your co-workers the night you were feeling extra generous.
DON’T have secrets.
Your spouse didn’t it like when you hid that ex from them, and they won’t like it if you hide your debt either. The only way your budget and future planning will work is if all your dirty money laundry is out in the open.
DON’T place blame.
Examining your financial situation can be stressful under the best of circumstances, so when discussing your money merger try to leave emotion out of it. “People in love don’t blame, castigate, or chastise each other when making financial decisions,” said Schmitz. “They work together to prepare for tomorrow.” It can also pay to hire a financial advisor to get an impartial third-party perspective.
DON’T rush things.
Unless you met at the casino in Vegas you didn’t decide to get married overnight, and you shouldn’t decide your financial path that way either. Make sure you thoroughly do your research and have a clear picture of each other’s assets before choosing a plan of action.