Getting married? 5 things to consider when combining your finances
If you’re getting married this year, you should talk about combining finances.
If you’re mulling getting married ever, you should talk about combining finances.
If you’re already married, and don’t have combined finances, you should talk about combining finances.
Beyond giving your spouse the leg-up in your next argument, there are some really good reasons to combine accounts according to financial planners.
1. Experts say it makes long-term planning easier
Rebecca Kennedy with Kennedy Financial Planning says it sets your relationship up for long-term success.
“It’s so much more effective when you’re in the same boat, rowing in the same direction,” she said.
It limits surprises 20 or 30 years down the road when one of you wants to retire to Costa Rica and the other partner thought you were sticking put forever and ever.
2. Not all couples combine all accounts.
Experts say many couples feed a pre-agreed upon amount into accounts that pay for fixed expenses like the mortgage or kids’ college accounts.
Beyond that, each partner is free to put money into “slush funds” that they can spend on whatever they please (we’re guessing within reason).
3. It can prevent future arguments
Mike Jones at Northwestern Mutual is one of a couple of financial planners who say an overwhelming majority of their clients share finances.
“And we’ve found that the couples that choose not to do that tend to struggle,” Jones said.
If couples aren’t on the same page, it leaves room for miscommunication.
Even though avoiding money talk might bypass arguments now, Dave Henderson with Integrity One Wealth Services says, “If you just put your head in the sand, and think it’s going to go away, the issue gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger until it blows up.”
He thinks you should talk it out sooner than later.
“Definitely before you walk down the aisle. And most people don’t,” he said.
4. Science backs this up.
A 1990 sociology study found combined accounts provides a built-in familial structure which cuts down on room for ambiguity.
Further, the National Institute of Health did a study in 2010 finding low-income couples had higher relationship satisfaction without the issues raised by keeping closed books.
5. Combining finances can strengthen your relationship
Marty Walsh at Brown & Tedstrom says in most cases, it’s inappropriate to combine accounts until you’re married, but once you are married, he thinks it can even prevent arguments that don’t revolve around money.
Mixing your money, can “promote transparency between the two spouses,” he says, which leads to greater trust and relationship efficiency overall.
Reasons to not combine money:
All that said, combining accounts may not be best for you.
“There are a few exceptions,” Walsh said.
You’ve got baggage
Kennedy says some couples wait if one party is bringing a large amount of debt to the altar that they’d rather take care of themselves.
It may be easier, she cautions, to tackle it together, but that’s totally up to you.
You’ve got anti-baggage (large bags of cash stashed away)
“If someone receives a large inheritance or there’s someone coming into the marriage and wants to sign a pre-nup or things like that,” Walsh says, you may choose to keep some accounts separate.
Whatever you choose on combining funds, experts all agree that there’s firstly: no right answer. Secondly: it pays off in the long-term to communicate openly about where your finances sit and how that positions you as a couple for bigger purchases like a house, or long-term goals like retirement.