You have been managing your finances as a single, but remember that there are a lot of things you need to consider when getting married. One of such is merging your finances.
When you decide to get married it is important to merge your finances, according to Miriam Caldwell, personal finance specialist. You should not do this until you are actually married, since there are laws protecting you when you are married.
Before you get married you should keep your finances separate. It helps to be financially compatible before you get married, but if you work together and communicate about your finances, you should be able to make things work. Caldwell has come with five basic steps you need to take when you merge your finances.
First, you should have an open discussion in which you lay it all out on the table. This is a time when you list all of your current debts, mistakes that you have made in paying on time, savings and other financial situations that you may have. When you get married you are taking on each other’s debt and assets. It is important to begin to look at the money as ours instead of his or her money/debt.
Second, you should sit down and plan out a budget. This budget should make a plan for every dollar that you make. It is important to allow each other spending money that you do not have to account to each other for. Depending on your situation this amount may vary. Just be sure that you can meet your obligations, save, and get out debt before it is too high of a percentage.
Third, you should set goals together. These financial goals will help you to communicate effectively about money. They will keep you focused and help you work through the tough times. Some common goals are to save for a house or to save enough to retire by a certain age. You may additionally want to think about if or when you have children. If you plan on having one spouse stay home, then you will need to adjust your finances now to accommodate that in the future. You may also want to prepare yourselves to begin saving for a college education, she said.
Fifth, you should open a new joint checking account. You can shop around for a bank that you both like or go to a credit union. You may decide that you want to keep one of your accounts and simply add the other spouse to this. When you open this account you should close your other accounts. It is important to change your automatic drafts over to this account as well.