As a newlywed, you've made a lot of life-changing promises and commitments lately. But have you discussed your financial plan including whether or not to merge your finances? Traditionally, newlyweds were expected to merge bank accounts after marriage, but many modern couples roll their eyes at the idea of this perceived “necessity”. Which choice is right for you?
To merge, or not to merge?
If you've been married for more than a few months, then you probably have a working system for dividing up the bills and other regular monthly expenses. If you currently don't have such a system in place, then it's time to make a budget, divide up the fiscal responsibilities, and discuss shared financial goals. As long as you work together, you're sure to find an equitable way to keep the bills paid and still put aside a little money for the future.
Once you have your financial game plan locked down, it's time to broach the topic of merging accounts. Do you fear that combining your finances might create more problems than it solves? Are you or your partner concerned that merging means sacrificing your financial independence? Many couples enjoy the autonomy of maintaining separate checking accounts after marriage, while other couples insist upon a greater degree of transparency and teamwork in their relationships. You just need to talk it out and see what works best for the both of you.
And while maintaining separate checking accounts can often help reduce friction over purchasing decisions, it can be counterproductive if one partner's unhealthy spending habits go unchecked. Fortunately, if you're on the fence, or you can't agree, there seems to be a fairly simple solution for the merge vs. don't merge debate: try doing both.
First, maintain separate personal accounts, but create a joint account for joint expenses such as rent and utilities. Then, decide how much money from your personal accounts you both should allocate to your joint account each month. Or, if your monthly income tends to be less predictable, establish your joint account as your primary account for paycheck deposits, and do the opposite. This way you can ensure that bills are paid together before dispensing any discretionary income.
You can educate yourself further about other common money management issues that newlyweds face by visiting Protective's tips and advice for buying your first home, buying or leasing a car, or protecting each other financially with a life insurance policy.