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We're Getting Married but Should We Marry Our Finances?

A reader is ready to give up her last name but not necessarily her personal bank account. She turns to Luci for advice.

Hi Luci,

I am planning a wedding and one thing my fiancée and I never thought about was what to do with our finances after we get married.  Should we have one checking and one savings account? Do we continue to keep our finances separate?  Or do we have several accounts, some that are joint and some that we keep for ourselves?  Hoping you can help us come to a conclusion that is fair and that we both feel comfortable with.

Thanks

 Marrying in May


Dear Marrying,

First let me congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials.  Second, on your foresight.  Money is the number one issue that couples fight over and the leading cause of divorce in the U.S.  Kudos for being proactive.


According to a survey conducted by SmartMoney, over 60% of married couples combine their funds into joint accounts.  However, some couples still keep everything in separate accounts, while others have both.  

With that being said, there is no right answer to your question, but there is a right answer for you. Sometimes you don’t know what that answer is until you try.  You two lovebirds need to find a comfortable solution.  Consider the benefits and drawbacks of the three options.  Joining forces, so to speak, gives you a view of the bigger picture, and it’s easy to manage fewer accounts, especially if neither one of you is a numbers person.  However, this can also cause arguments.  He may disagree with the price tag on your new purse; you may think that he’s getting to old to keep his season tickets to the Birds.  

Keeping separate accounts is another option and the benefits are obvious.  You keep your money and he keeps his, which gives each a sense of autonomy and independence.  You split the bills how you see fit.  I know couples that divide everything 50/50.  And I know others who pay things as they come in, whoever has the money pays the bills.  But what if nobody has it?  Then you’re both in trouble.  I also know a couple who has both separate and joint accounts.  No matter who makes what, they get an equal weekly allowance based on their joint budget.   She gets her massages; he gets his steak dinners with the guys. 

The key in all of this is to find out what works for you and your spouse.  Take the time to make a budget together and stick to it.  If you two are on the same page financially, the odds are in your favor.

Now go forth and multiply!

Best-

Luci

Samantha L. March 15, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Great advice! I am far from being hitched, but it never hurts to think about the future and what I would feel most comfortable doing with my husband! Thanks, Luci!

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