Marriage & Money – How Do You Combine Your Finances?

The bouquet has been tossed. Glasses clinked after touching toasts. Cake was devoured (with the top layer tucked away in your freezer for your anniversary, of course). The honeymoon was a blast. Lifetime memories were made.

stairs

Now it’s time for married life to begin. And it seems everyone has the perfect nugget of advice on how to make it last, right? Many of those nuggets probably refer to how to handle money.

“You must combine your money immediately if you think you’ll be on the same page financially.”

“Try to live on just one income.”

Or my favorite recipe for arguments: “Just one person should be in charge of the books.”

The thing is that in today’s world, there is no cookie-cutter solution for how new couples should combine their finances. With dual incomes where sometimes the bride makes more money than the groom, it is no longer practical to assume that the groom will be the bread-winner and the sole keeper of the purse strings. Couples are waiting longer to get married, therefore they have had more time to grow financially independent and develop their own habits. This adds a whole new level of complication to the adjustment to married life.

So how should newlyweds handle this highly sensitive and often argued-about subject? I wish I had a simple answer, but I think that it really is tailored individually to each couple and their styles, habits, tolerances and relationship. One couple may be able to seamlessly open a joint checking account for all their money and have no issues with paying their bills, maintaining their lifestyle and saving for the future. This same solution for another couple could cause strife beyond imagining.

Of course there are certain things that I suggest all couples do. Like opening a joint savings account that both contribute to for a shared goal or dream such as vacation, a down payment on a home or just an emergency fund. How that account is funded, however, will depend on the couple and their attitudes toward money. One couple may decide that they contribute proportionately to their incomes. Another couple may agree that equality is more important and both contribute the same amount, no matter who makes more.

Regardless of income levels, spending styles, or how much you love each other, money remains one of the top catalysts to strife and unhappiness in marriages. It is worth it to seek out a financial coach, class, book or process to start your marriage out on the right path financially. Experiment with different ideas, remember to be respectful, flexible and honest, and realize that it may take a little bit of time for you to find your groove with money as a couple. Don’t worry if the first thing you try doesn’t work – there is no perfect solution!

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