Updated: Mar 13
Wondering how to manage finances in a marriage? We share what you should discuss prior to getting married.
Splitting up finances in a marriage is something you should discuss BEFORE getting married. It ensures you both are on the same page and have the same goals. It makes the transition to marriage that much easier (finances is the #2 reason why couples end up getting a divorce). If you are married and haven't discussed these topics yet, now is the perfect time to discuss how to manage your finances in a marriage. Here are the 4 recommended areas to align on prior to tying the knot:
This is a big one, especially if one of you has a substantial amount of debt to pay off, while the other person doesn't. Talk to each other about it. How much do you still need to pay off? What is your timeline for paying it off? Is it a priority to pay it off ( the answer should generally always be yes)? Will you both be contributing to pay it off? Not all marriages are the same and there's no right answer. Do what makes you both feel comfortable.
When my husband and I got married, he had a car that he was paying off. It's his car, I never drove it for any reason. We both agreed that he would continue to pay off his car loan and that my contribution would be half of the monthly rent for parking, which would be $100. That paid for any random grocery trips we took and drives to visit our parents. If there were longer trips like a weekend drive up to the Finger Lakes, we would split the gas and tolls evenly.
How will you be combining your accounts, if you choose to at all? It's not at all required to combine your bank accounts, you can continue to keep your accounts separate. A big red flag is if your significant other asks to combine everything. You both are still individuals and there will be things that you want to spend your money on that won't benefit your spouse, so typically it makes sense to keep your existing accounts and open a joint account together.
My husband and I agreed to keep our own separate accounts, but open up a joint checking account for our investment properties and a joint savings account to build our savings. We agreed to put in a set amount into our savings account each month, which we have set up an automatic transfer for. I do earn more than my husband so I add more into the joint savings account than he does, but we make all decisions regarding our savings TOGETHER.
Aligning on future goals
Future goals is huge. You and your fiancé may see eye to eye now, but what does your relationship look like 5 years down the line? 10 years? 20 years? Discussing everything from how many kids you want (if you want kids at all) to what type of home you want to your future job is all super critical. You don't want to find out that the person you're marrying has a completely different future from what you're envisioning - that means you're not working towards the same goals, which can cause more friction down the line.
Expenses is always a big question. Now that you're married, you're most likely going to budget together. Talk about what your spending habits and budget behaviors are - do you currently budget? How will you budget together in a marriage? What expenses do you want to split versus keep separate.
For my husband and I, we split rent, utilities, food, groceries, major apartment purchases and vacation related expenses, but anything outside of that, we cover individually. My husband loves going to the gym - that is something he only pays for and I don't split with him. I sometimes treat myself to sweets or go grab a drink with a friend. I don't typically add that to the shared expense list because they don't involve my significant other. Even if you're engaged now or thinking of getting engaged, discussing how to budget for your wedding and aligning on how to split wedding costs are topics you should start talking about now.
Hopefully, this list has been helpful and gives you a better understanding of what should b discussed before officially tying the knot! For more similar posts, visit our love & finances category.