When you get married you’re making an official commitment to work together with your spouse. That includes finances. But handling money as a couple isn’t always easy. To keep your finances in order and your marriage solid, you’ll need to have open communication and a plan. The good news is that the more you and your partner work together on managing your money, the better you’ll get at doing it. Here are a few tips for merging your money and making it work:
Discuss Your Priorities
Your first step should be to figure out what you want to accomplish with your money as a couple. Do you want to pay off debts? Buy a house? Start a retirement fund? Take some time to talk about what you’d like to do, and find out what you agree on and what you don’t. Now that you’re married it’s smart to combine all your goals and ideas, and then create a list of joint priorities that you both support in your relationship. Having a direction will go a long way toward determining your financial decisions.
Combine Your Finances
Every couple goes about this differently. Some completely combine all their bank accounts, credit cards, and investments. Others want to keep their money separate or decide to share just one or two accounts. Pooling your finances with your spouse requires compromise and communication. Finding common ground and making financial decisions together is your ultimate goal. Set up a time to have a money conversation with your spouse and be prepared to recognize each other’s differences and needs. Everyone has a different background and experience with money. There will be techniques that only work for one of you, so you’ll need to figure out ways to handle your finances that you are both comfortable with.
Create a Household Budget
A budget is an essential tool for managing your finances. Your income and expenses will change now that you’re married, so it’s important to create a combined budget, or revisit your individual budgets. Spend some time with your spouse and map out any your income and expenses. Organizing finances on a budgeting app, like Mint, is a helpful tool for staying on top of your money.
Schedule Regular Conversations
It will take more than one discussion to get on the same page and make a plan, so make sure to schedule regular money meetings every week until you have everything hashed out. After you do, you can switch to monthly talks to check in on your finances.
Divide Financial Duties
When it comes to handling finances there are always duties to perform to keep them in check. When you merge your money you’ll need to coordinate that with your spouse. Take the time to divide up the financial duties based on your unique strengths. If your significant other is better at math, for example, let her tally up expenses each month and keep track of what you’re spending.
Track Your Spending
After you’ve merged your money, you want to be as transparent with money as possible to avoid any surprises that can affect your relationship. The best way to avoid a fight is to track your spending. There are numerous apps our there to help you track your budget. Research and try out a few to find the right one for you.
Continually Evaluate Your Process
No matter what methods you use to merge finances with your spouse, remember that the process does not need to be fixed. As you get comfortable with one another and learn more about how to best navigate your finances together, your plan should evolve. Your goals and your priorities will also change as major events occur in your life, like children, or buying a house. Return to your plan periodically and reassess it. Talk about what works for you as a couple, and what doesn’t, so you can make the process and your marriage better.