Handling finances as a couple isn’t always easy. Over 21 percent of marriages split because of money problems. When you get married you’re making an official commitment to work together on everything, including finances. The only way to do that well is with open communication and a plan. Here are seven suggestions for merging your money and keeping your relationship healthy:
Talk About Your Priorities
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 accomplish with your money as a couple, and find out what you agree on and what you don’t. 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.
Pool Your Finances
Merging finances with your spouse requires compromise and communication. Finding common ground and making financial decisions together is your ultimate goal. 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. 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.
Make a Budget
Your income and expenses will change now that you’re married. A budget will be your most essential tool for managing your combined finances. Spend some time with your spouse and map out any your income and expenses. Organizing finances on a budgeting app is a helpful tool for staying on top of your money.
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. Explore some of the apps out there are provide assistance with planning a budget
Assign Financial Tasks
When you merge your money as a couple 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 remembering dates and keeping a schedule, for example, let him be in charge or making sure bills are paid on time.
Make Time to Talk
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.
Don’t Be Afraid to Update Your Plan
As you get comfortable with one another and learn more about how to best navigate your finances together, your plan will likely evolve. Your goals and your priorities will also change as major events occur in your life, like children, or buying a house. No matter what methods you use to merge finances with your spouse, remember that the process you started with does not need to be fixed. 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.