Wedding rings and joint accounts

Just got hitched? It’s time to discuss how you’ll pay the bills.

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by Gail Vaz-Oxlade
March 15th, 2012

Online only.

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Whether you had the big, formal wedding or a small gathering of friends, now that you’re done with the party it’s time to take a deep breath and talk about the one thing you’ve likely neglected so far: the money. While it’s not something that’s top of mind for most newlyweds, having a chat about the money is a definite must-do.

Now that you’re married, you’ll not only have to deal with your own goals, incomes and expenses, but you’ll also have to anticipate and plan for your better-half’s agenda.

Where to start? A good place is with your goals and expectations. How do you each feel about money? What do you want to accomplish individually and as a couple? How will you have to adjust your expectations so you each get what you need while staying on an even keel financially?

One of the first things you’ll have to come to terms with is how you will manage day-to-day financial transactions. Will you keep your separate accounts? Will you join up all the money? Hang on a sec. If you do that, one of you will end up losing your financial identity. To be healthy financially, you must each have your own accounts and your own credit – no joint credit please. If you choose a joint account for managing your household expenses, that’s fine, as long as you also hang on to your individual financial IDs.

Being joined in holy wedlock doesn’t mean you’ll always see eye-to-eye. His penchant for taking risk with his investment dollars may raise her more conservative hackles. Or her determination to put away for a rainy day may feel restrictive if it interferes with his wanderlust. Having individual investment accounts is one way to deal with differences in investment goals. Another way is to compromise, balancing your family finances to meet both partners’ needs.

Marriage should trigger a review of your insurance benefits. If you plan to have children, the time to buy insurance is when you’re young and healthy. The longer you wait, the harder it may be since even a small change in health may disqualify you. And it will definitely cost more as you get older.

Unless you made your will in contemplation of your marriage, as soon as you tie the knot your old will is automatically revoked. Time to make a new will. While you’re at it, consider executing financial and personal care powers of attorney…just in case.

You’ll face a lot of challenges as you integrate your lives. And if you think her stockings over the bathroom railing or his leaving the toilet seat up is a turn off, wait till you see what unresolved financial differences can do to love. So communicate. Don’t disintegrate.

One comment on “Wedding rings and joint accounts

  1. I am getting hitched in July. We've already discussed the financial details in full, though. Maybe this is considered odd to some people, but it's obviously essential. I come with a huge price tag (student loans), and I have always been upfront about this debt to my significant other.

    I know it's not nice to say, but sometimes these types of differences can really be deal breakers (especially when a saver and spender try to come to reach a compromise–that's not a pretty mediation.)

    Reply

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