Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

Couples need a clear vision of which money is his, hers, and theirs jointly.

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Some couples maintain individual bank accounts after they are married, while others put all their money together in joint accounts. Both of these financial strategies can lead to long-term success. The key is to be on the same page as your spouse about whether or not you will combine finances.

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Pay attention to boundaries. If your spouse thinks about certain assets as his or hers, you have to tread carefully. Even if you don’t argue outright, your spouse might harbor deep resentments about how you spend money she sees as hers. If your spending habits are making your spouse worry about maintaining a good credit score, that’s going to boil over into other aspects of your relationship.

Find compromises. If you are interested in having peace and quiet at home, it really doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what your spouse thinks about this issue and whether you can agree on a compromise. If you do fight about money, you have a real opportunity to end the strife by working out an answer you and your spouse both agree to.

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Be flexible. Ideally, you should discuss your finances with your spouse before you get married and reach an agreement. The earlier in your relationship you discuss who has the right to which pot of money, the better chance you have of avoiding financial conflicts within your relationship. But just because you made an agreement doesn’t mean you can’t alter it as conditions change. For example, when one spouse has an extended period of unemployment or an irregular income it can become essential for the other spouse to support them for a while and you will need to adjust your financial plan accordingly.

Develop a long-term plan. Even if you don’t argue about money or have financial resentments, getting on the same page with your spouse about spending is the most important step you can take if you want to solve debt problems or boost your retirement savings. You should set financial goals together such as saving for a first home down payment or paying off the mortgage early.

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Couples need to have a clearly understood vision of which money is his, which money is hers, and which money is theirs jointly. If you want more happiness and financial security, try to make the joint pot as large as possible, the individual pots as small as possible, and have clearly understood expectations about the amount of income you are each responsible for bringing in.

Neal Frankle is a certified financial planner and runs Wealth Pilgrim, a personal finance blog that helps people make smart decisions about their money. As a start, he suggests that you strive to understand your credit score range.