Do we need to merge finances once we’re married?

While conversations about flowers, cakes and wedding venues may help you plan a successful wedding, putting your finances on the conversation agenda with your fiancé can help you plan for a successful marriage.

While there is no single right way to merge finances after you are married, it is important to discuss your spending habits, individual debts and savings goals in order to make a plan that works best for both of you.

Here are three different options that you can consider to manage your family bank account:

1. Combining finances into one joint account

With one bank account there will be no confusion about where the money will come from to pay the household bills. This may be a good option for couples that have similar spending and saving habits and/or couples that expect to have one combined income.

But having one joint account may become a challenge if one partner is a saver and the other is a spender. The saver may experience stress from watching the account balance decline and the spender may experience stress from answering questions about their purchases.

Also read: Couples and money – Top 5 fight-starting behaviors

With a joint account, it is important to assign ownership for actually paying each household bill so that nothing gets missed, and to make sure the household bills are paid before any discretionary spending occurs. Couples should also discuss what dollar amount can be spent on a purchase without needing to have a conversation about the purchase first.

2. Sharing a house account and having separate spending accounts:

For couples with different spending habits a “house account” for shared bills along with individual accounts for discretionary spending may remove some of the financial stress in the household. Individual spending accounts can give each partner the freedom to spend a certain amount each month with no questions asked.

Also readHow to deal when your partner makes more money than you

It is important for each partner to agree on how much they will contribute to the house account as well as other joint accounts for common savings goals. The amounts can be determined by percentage of paycheck or cost of individual bills. Just like with a joint account, it is also important to assign ownership for physically paying each household bill so that nothing gets missed.

3. Keeping separate accounts:

For couples that want more autonomy in their finances, maintaining separate accounts may be a good option. It can seem like this option does not merge your finances at all, but it is still important to discuss your spending habits, individual debts and savings goals to in order to make a long term financial plan for your household.

With separate accounts, household bills should be divided and assigned so that each partner knows which bills they are responsible for paying. While spending accounts are kept separate, you can discuss contributing to joint savings accounts for shared goals.

Also read: How to prepare to buy your first home

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Cari Lingle

Cari Lingle is an Accredited Financial Counselor for Foresters Everyday Money, providing unbiased financial coaching and education with the goal of improving the financial well being of Foresters Members. Supported by her background in both financial coaching and financial analysis, Cari writes about all aspects of personal finance including credit, debt, basic budgeting and current industry trends.