Today is our 4th wedding anniversary! It sounds a little corny, but time really does fly when you’re having fun. Sure, we have our ups and downs, but the ups definitely make up for any downs. Plus, being on the same page for several “adult” topics, particularly faith and finances, makes things a little easier.
So in honor of this momentous day, I thought I would share some discussion points and tips for merging finances. Heck, these should be revisted every so often since finances can change over time due to new jobs, new kids, retirement, etc.
Here’s a jumping off point for your “money talks:”
- Are you comfortable discussing money?
- Are you a saver or spender?
- Do you want to have a budget? (Hint: Mint.com is a great resource)
- Should we have a joint checking account or separate accounts or both?
- Who is going to be responsible for making sure that bills are paid on time?
- What are necessities and luxuries? Think about going out to eat, cable TV, going to the movies, vacations, etc.
- What are our assets?
- How much do we owe in debts (credit card, student, car, mortgage)? How do we plan on paying down any debt?
- Where does our money go? Spending, savings, investing?
- What are our financial goals?
- What are our future plans for purchasing a home?
You should also consider discussing what to do with your monetary gifts from the wedding. Chances are, you’ll be leaving the reception with a good chunk of change. If you don’t have time to make a deposit before leaving for your honeymoon, have a trusted family member deposit the checks at the bank for you. You’ll also have to decide what to do with that money. Perhaps you’ll use it to pay bills from the wedding, save for a house, or pay down debt.
Finally, once you’re all settled back in from the wedding and honeymoon, the real financial fun begins. How will you actually merge your finances? Depending on your bank, you might be able to open accounts online or you might have to take a trip to the bank with a copy of your marriage certificate.
John and I are pretty financially savvy, so we have a joint high interest savings account, a joint checking account, and separate credit cards. Paychecks are deposited into the checking account and used to pay all bills (common and personal). We also have automatic transfers set to move money from our checking account to our savings and investment accounts.
This is simply what works for us. Other people might have joint and separate checking accounts. The joint account would be used to pay common bills (rent, utilities, food) and the separate accounts would be used to pay personal bills.
Keep in mind that whatever method you use, it’s important to maintain your own credit cards. That way you can keep growing and maintaining your credit score. Also, credit reports don’t automatically merge once you’re married unless you have joint accounts. Also, take special care of your credit scores and history if you’re looking to buy a home together. One spouse’s negative credit history could impact your mortgage rates.
Overall, communication is key for a successful engagement and marriage. That and a healthy dose of flirting ;)
Do you have any other tips for merging finances? Or do you have a talking point to share?