The feeling of newlywed bliss can come in many forms: joining families, joining friends, and even joining your finances. However, for some couples, merging money can be confusing or stressful. However, this stress can be minimized by establishing good habits early and keeping the lines of communication open.
Maybe you already know the ins and outs of your partner’s financial health, or maybe you’ve waited until after you walked down the aisle to merge your bank accounts. Regardless, it’s important to remember that navigating money as newlyweds isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, and that the best approach to combining your finances is one that you’ve both agreed upon.
Below you’ll find three tips from Keri Danielski, consumer finance expert at Intuit Turbo, that will help you and your partner establish good habits as you begin the process of combining finances:
1. Know Where You Stand
Knowing where you stand involves more than the numbers in your bank account. Do you know the total amount of debt you have combined? How does your credit score compare to that of your partner? Do you have a healthy savings account, or is this something you want to replenish now that the wedding and honeymoon are over? These are important questions to ask yourself and your partner as you join finances, so you can know where you’re starting from. Additionally, knowing how each of you approaches money will help you avoid surprises down the road when certain financial decisions may come up.
2. Know Where You Want to Go
Once you know where you stand, you and your partner will be in a good place to outline your short-term and long-term financial goals. When deciding on your goals, you will likely have to come to a joint decision with your partner on what to prioritize – paying off any debt, rebuilding your savings, or buying your dream home. If you choose to pay down your debts first and are grappling with high interest rates, you may want to look into tools that can show you a holistic picture of your household income and personalized recommendations for your unique situation, like what debt repayment strategy is right for you.
3. Keep Talking
Whether you and your partner have a lot of debt, or have set aggressive financial goals, managing money with someone else can get overwhelming at times. This is why it’s so important to keep things fun and lighthearted. A good strategy is to go out on “money dates” with each other. Why go on dates to talk about money when you could easily do it in the comfort of your own home? Most couples usually have money talks at the worst possible time, like when one of you comes home after a long day at work only to be confronted about important life decisions like saving for retirement, or getting chastised for spending too much on pricey golf clubs. Instead of bombarding each other with your money worries, schedule regular check-ins – such as after-dinner walks or a trip to your favorite coffee shop – where you can both commit to coming together to discuss your finances and the progress you’re making toward your goals.
If you follow these three steps, you’ll be on your way to a healthy marriage (and bank account!) in no time. While talking about finances can be scary – especially if you’re debt-ridden or have a shopping habit – it doesn’t have to be. Remember that you and your partner are a team and the best way to tackle your money woes is by doing it together.