The Urge to Merge – Money After Marriage, That Is

by TTMK on March 5, 2012 · 4 comments

Let’s be nice and share!

The question of how to merge finances after getting married is one that seems to come up more and more these days. With both spouses usually working immediately upon marriage, and possibly having ingrained habits and established views of money, it’s important to take care to combine finances the right way.

What’s interesting is that when people get married, money earned after the marriage is considered marital property anyway. To me, the concept of saying something is “his” or “hers” seems arbitrary and somewhat myopic. Since money is legally shared anyway, might as well take the time to do it effectively and in a way that’s agreeable to both people. After all, you’re partners in a very special relationship, right?

Tips on how to merge finances when getting married

  1. Disclose your finances. It’s best to be completely and totally honest and open about your financial situation before getting married. Share information on your income, savings, debts, and anything else related to your net worth and current or future cash flow.
  2. Discuss your financial goals. Hopefully, both of you have them. If you’re reading this blog, we can safely say that you have goals 🙂 Anyway, it’s good to talk about what you want to accomplish with money long-term.
  3. Share your views on saving and spending. It happens so often: one person is a saver, the other is a spender. That might not be a big problem in the big picture, but it’s important to be able to discuss these views and preferences.
  4. Make a budget. It’s such a common personal finance topic: make a budget and live within it. With people getting married, it’s not like they might necessarily have a long history of understanding each other’s spending habits. Making a budget can help them manage expectations with a shared sense of purpose and agreement.
  5. Open accounts together. Starting with a bank account, married people can work on combining finances through opening a joint account. Money earned from the beginning of marriage onward can be deposited in this account as a couple starts their life together with joint finances.
  6. Compromise and respect the other person’s views. Even if you have a different orientation toward money than your significant other, it’s important to completely respect his or her views. Such beliefs can be sourced by direct life experiences, and can lead to established ways of doing things. Best to happily allow each other a fair amount of freedom.

My Questions for You:

What do you think of these steps regarding combining finances when getting married?

Is there one in particular that you think is most important?

Do you have any other suggestions or tips, based on your own experiences or what you have observed

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ evolvingPF March 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I think steps 2 and 3 are among areas of marriage preparation where observation is as necessary as discussion. Particularly for people who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about PF, it can be tricky to truly articulate one’s goals and personality. There may be some element of self-delusion going on as well or a lack of awareness of other people’s standards (i.e. denying a spender personality because you’re not as bad as your parents). I think in many cases you can discover a lot more by going through someone’s financial records than by talking with them. If your intended says her plan for retirement is to travel the world in style but she hasn’t opened a retirement account, there is a disconnect. If he says nothing is more important to him than family but he hasn’t financially prioritized visiting his parents over frequent restaurant-eating, there is a disconnect.

I am an advocate for taking a lot of intentional time to evaluate a relationship before an engagement is agreed upon, and discovering your own and your partner’s financial personalities and how you will compromise definitely takes time!

Reply

TTMK March 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Emily-

I think you make some excellent points. What people say about their intentions might not match up with what they can actually do. Or, in some cases, what they truly intend to do. Not that any of this is necessarily deception, but as you say, there is often delsusion involved with some folks.

Best to truly take the time to not only discuss, but also see how the actions line up with the words and thoughts. This can’t be done in a matter of months, but it can take a long time to truly understand each other as well as work toward settling in on a way of doing things that work for both people. Smart idea to do this, I think, as nobody wants money to pull people apart. Rather, it can be something that can help provide a life that allows people to focus on each other, family, and enjoying life.

Reply

Invest It Wisely March 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

We have a joint account for our joint expenses and mortgage, but we still have our individual accounts from before, too. Come together for mutual things, and retain individual freedom, too. I like it. 🙂

Reply

TTMK March 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Invest it Wisely – if you both are cool with it, it’s all good!

Reply

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