Newly married couples should make every effort to be on the same page with regard to handling their finances.
Couples can spend months or even years planning their wedding – but they would be wise to also give some thought to life beyond their wedding day.
One of the more important matters couples must consider is how to manage their finances once they tie the knot. Discussing money can be a tricky issue, particularly when couples have long been accustomed to handling their own accounts and being responsible for their own income and expenditures.
Bringing another party into the equation can complicate matters, particularly when one spouse may not have the full picture of the other's spending and saving habits. In fact, the financial resource Bankrate.com says some of the most common financial problems newly married couples encounter include overspending and managing debt.
When deciding how to merge their finances, couples can experiment to see what works best for them. It may take some trial and error before couples find a solution that fits their needs, but it's important that they keep the lines of communication open and express a willingness to compromise with regard to managing money.
The following are some additional tips for couples who want to make the transition to sharing finances go as smoothly as possible.
Start the conversation early
According to a recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, more than two-thirds of engaged couples had negative attitudes about discussing money with their soon-to-be spouses, with 5 percent saying even having the conversation would cause them to call off the wedding.
If money is causing this type of issue before the wedding, delaying the conversation until after tying the knot can be a big mistake. It's better for couples to begin financial discussions and start brainstorming long-term goals and plans as soon as they get engaged. Don't hide negative financial information from a prospective spouse. Being open and honest – even though it can be challenging – is the best way to proceed.
Deal with debt
Hiding debt is a big mistake. Discuss debt early on and come up with a way to pay it off together. The experts say that, like it or not, once you're married, your spouse's debts become your problem. Individual credit scores can impact your ability to get credit as a couple. It's best to handle debt efficiently regardless of who is responsible for it.
Decide who is the money manager
One person may be better or more organized when it comes to paying bills. Whether you keep separate accounts or combine them, it is easier for one person to take the lead and manage the finances from month to month. Money can funnel into a joint account specifically established to pay bills.
Develop a joint budget
Not only do finances need to be merged, but so, too, do lifestyles. Couples must be on the same page regarding their spending habits and keep luxury or personal expenditures in check. Work out a budget and a savings plan together.