Your wedding may be one of the biggest days of your life. But long before that special occasion arrives, it’s important to have conversations with your significant other around your personal financial approach. It might seem like a logical move to combine your finances right away, but it’s important to consider what makes the most sense for your situation. That’s why Elements is here with trusted advice around marriage and your money. We’ll address a range of issues from whether you’ll file taxes together or not to who will be the beneficiary on your policies and estate. We’re here to help you understand many of these key factors for building a healthy financial life together.
Having financial conversations can often be tough. However, to build a successful relationship, these conversations are necessary. When you begin to make decisions about banking together, consider the following topics.
While combining your bank accounts might seem like the easiest and smartest move, you have options for making a plan to handle finances together:
Separate Accounts: While transparency and mutual understanding of goals are critical, many couples successfully manage their key financial accounts – such as checking and savings – on an individualized basis. This works well if you two have different spending habits, yet makes paying the bills a bit more challenging.
Halfway Merge: In this situation, the couple maintains separate accounts where both have payroll deposited. Then, they contribute to a joint account from which their expenses get paid. This is a good option if you’re looking to maintain some independence, yet might get confusing with various accounts to manage.
Full Merge: Put all your money into one joint account together. All your bills, vacations, and general spending get paid from this common account. It can offer a sense of partnership, yet could lead to frustration or arguments if spending guidelines aren’t set or followed by the other partner.
If you decide to complete a full merge, it’s also important to decide which accounts you’ll keep open and which ones to close. A great option is to open completely new accounts altogether. Looking for a place to start? Explore our High Interest Checking and Helium Savings Accounts for our best interest rates. Don’t forget to set up online access and request debit cards for yourself and your spouse, plus move all automated payments over to your new accounts.
You might have bills you were paying on your own that you should now combine. Take a look at these items and discuss which ones you need to cancel or consolidate:
- Cell Phone Plans
- Home Utilities
- Gym Memberships
- Internet Providers
- Music and Video Streaming Services
Dealing with Debt
One of the keys to building a successful financial relationship is to address and make a plan for debt. Will each of you pay toward your own? Will you merge your debts together? Will you choose to pay more toward the larger debts first? This line of questioning is a critical step to transparency with your spouse and crafting a thoughtful strategy. Need advice? Our Dealing with Debt article provides guidance for paying down what you already owe and avoiding more debt in the future.
Understanding Spending Patterns
Maybe you’ve been earning and spending money on your own for years. Now it’s important to share your personal approaches to handling money with your partner. Does one of you love spending while the other loves saving? It’s best to set mutually agreeable guidelines and encourage your partner to be honest with you about their spending. Need advice? Our Slash Your Spending article covers tactics for gaining a more complete understanding of your spending patterns.
Paying Taxes Together
Couples can file either joint or separate tax returns. Consider both and speak with a tax advisor or use tax software to better understand which option is best for your personal situation. In many cases, filing jointly makes the most sense. However, based on your unique circumstances, there might be reasons to consider filing separately, such as:
Separate Finances: If you prefer to keep your financial business and matters your own, you can choose to file separately.
Medical Deductions: Based upon your individual earnings, it may be beneficial to file separately for greater medical deductions.
Student Loans: Deciding if you will file separately or jointly can have an impact on the amount of your student loan payments, so consult an advisor to understand these tax implications.
You and your spouse surely have shared aspirations for the future, so it’s important to plan ahead for those together!
Planning to spend your entire life together likely means you’ll need to prepare similar goals for retirement. One of the best ways to navigate bringing your retirement plans together or understanding the differences between your two strategies is to meet with a certified financial advisor. Bringing a third-party perspective into the conversation will provide you with objective guidance that can spark future-oriented conversations between you and your significant other.
Need advice? The team at Elements Wealth Management offers complimentary consultations and can provide expert advice on investing, retirement planning, and saving for education, among other financial topics.
You’ll probably want to update the beneficiary on your life insurance, retirement plans, annuities, and IRAs to the name of your new spouse. It’s best to wait until you are officially married to complete this process since you’ll want to update your new married name or your spouse’s at the same time, if applicable.
Have questions? Our experts are here to support you. Contact Elements for support with all aspects of your financial journey.
This information is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice. Consult with your tax, legal or financial adviser before taking any action.