Is opening a joint bank account with your new spouse after the wedding a good idea? The answer: it depends. If you’ve already started having the (sometimes awkward) talk about finances and share the same financial goals, sharing a joint account can be a logical move. If you think of yourselves as partners and you’re ready to collaborate, a joint account can further establish you as a team. But if you pinch pennies and he spends freely, there’s work to be done before you merge money. Keep reading for tips on what to consider before taking the financial plunge.
Have you already talked about finances?
Even if opening the conversation is slightly painful, talking about money before the wedding can help avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. Some couples talk about finances when the relationship gets serious. Others arrive at the altar with no clue about how much their potential spouse owes.
If you’re thinking about a joint account, now’s the time to share information about salaries and assets. Credit ratings and debts such as student loans or mortgages will make an impact on your future spending, so talk about them as well.
Have you set financial goals together?
Amid the thousands of details that go into planning a wedding, giving some thought to life after the big event will get you started toward the right financial path. Have you talked about any savings you each might have for a down payment on a house? If you are working together to set your financial goals, a joint checking account makes sense. You will be able to see how you’re making progress toward those goals. Talking about money with your partner becomes easier when you both can see how much you are each contributing toward the goals you’ve agreed upon.
Do you think “our money” instead of “my money”?
Have you decided how much each of you will put into the joint account? There’s nothing wrong with having your own separate accounts on the side. However, financial managers suggest at least in the beginning of the marriage that you both put your entire paycheck into the family fund. Paying for mortgage, groceries, phone bills, and set savings money for each comes out of the common pot. This will save you from the hassle of deciding who pays for what and how much each should contribute. And the strategy will erase the notion of “my money, your money” while cementing the bond that it’s “our money.”
Do you differ wildly in spending?
If one of you spends freely and the other thinks most of the paycheck should go toward retirement, you will want to have a serious discussion before you open a joint checking account. Studies say money is a major cause of friction in marriages. Reaching a compromise before you pool resources will save a lot of bickering. And if your differences are major, think about consulting a financial planner and a counselor. Both will help you decide what works best for you as a couple.
Does one have much more wealth than the other?
Financial planners can help you decide the best course for your family if one of you has significantly more assets. Keeping money separate can help protect assets in case of the unexpected, such as a lawsuit. If you share any assets with business partners or relatives, you should inform them that you plan to merge finances with your spouse so that they can make any necessary changes.