If you are newly married, or planning on getting married soon, be sure to allocate time to consider some of the financial aspects of marriage. Marriage will change how you handle your finances and it can also be the source of anguish in a marriage. After you are married, you and your spouse will be financially responsible for each other, and to each other. This responsibility includes legal things like being liable for joint debts and filing a joint income tax return and physical things like putting food on the table and paying the rent.
Finances have an emotional aspect. You owe each other openness and honesty when discussing your finances. Chances are that you and your spouse bring different financial backgrounds to your marriage. One of you may be more inclined to use credit cards or one of you have better financial organizational skills, one may be very interested in financial matters and the other may not care as long as there is money in the bank to pay the bills.
Over time, the financial tendencies that you bring to your marriage will probably be blended into a financial lifestyle that both of you are comfortable with. To help that blending process, set aside time where you discuss your finances and perhaps even agree on some financial policies.
- Are you going to have individual checking accounts or a joint one?
- How much of each of your incomes is going to be used for normal household expenses?
- Who is going to be responsible for actually paying monthly bills?
- How are you going to approach things like how often to buy cars, how are you going to use credit cards, how expensive of vacations are you going to take or how much risk do you want with your investments?
As you grow as couple, you’ll want to continue to have discussions about short and long-term financial goals. Getting married is a big step in your personal life as well as your financial life, with the right tools and clear communication you’ll be able to overcome some of life’s toughest obstacles.