Considerations for couples combining finances
Before you get married, there are plenty of things to go over with your future spouse — from planning the big day to scheduling a possible honeymoon. Sometimes, discussions of your finances can get lost in the shuffle — but you certainly don't want to miss having the conversation altogether.
As you prepare to officially combine your finances, here are some topics to discuss:
- How you'll combine everything — For example, you might fully join finances or prefer to have a joint account that you each contribute to, while keeping some money as "yours." Take time during this discussion to also figure out how you plan to pay bills.
- Debt — One or both of you could have some form of debt, including student loans or credit card bills. You'll want to get a clear picture of that debt and start budgeting for it so you can work on paying it down.
- Lifestyle plans — Plenty of people get married later in life or have second marriages years after their first ended. So you might be in a very different place getting married at 45 than you were at 25. Make sure you discuss your future plans and goals together so you can build your finances around them.
- Prenuptial agreements — You might not want to go into a marriage thinking about how it could end. However, a prenuptial agreement is a financial document that can help protect children and assets. Many couples consider them.
Financial considerations for married couples
Money can be a sensitive issue to talk about, even if you're married. What's important is making sure you think about your finances as a team and work together to create long-term success with your financial goals. Here are some specific areas where addressing finances as a couple can help:
- Taxes — Married couples have different tax considerations than those who file as individuals. Don't take tax season for granted. Work with a tax professional to identify some of the tax advantages you could benefit from as a married couple and if those make sense for you.
- Retirement goals — As you age, your retirement planning can become more important than ever. Discuss what you'd like to get out of your retirement and then work on ways to save toward those goals. Contributing in a 401(k) through your work or opening an individual retirement account may help.
- Life insurance — Once you're married, priorities can change. If you have kids or make a big purchase like a home, you'll want to ensure the people you love are protected. Life insurance can be one way to give you peace of mind they'll be taken care of if the unexpected happens.
- Don't forget about fun — A lot of money discussions are around serious topics. However, don't forget about having some fun with your money, too! Consider setting aside savings that you can use for nights out, special treats and vacations to enjoy together.
Keep an open dialogue
Talking about money doesn't have to be a tricky subject. Take a look at your finances and work together to create a budget that you're both comfortable with and helps you hit your short- and long-term goals. The more open communication you have around your finances, the less likely you’ll run into monetary conflict in your relationship.