When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your life changes—and your approach to managing your money may change as well. The good news is it’s usually not so difficult.
At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions—questions that pertain not only to your shared finances but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might have some consequences.
FIRST OFF, HOW DO YOU PROPOSE SETTING PRIORITIES? One of your first priorities should be simply setting aside money that may help you build an emergency fund. But there are other questions to ask. Should you open joint accounts? How should you title assets that are owned by both of you?
HOW MUCH WILL YOU SPEND & SAVE? Budgeting can help you arrive at your answer. A simple budget, an elaborate budget, or any attempt at a budget can prove more informative than you realize. A thorough, line-item budget may seem a little over the top, but what you learn from it may be truly eye-opening.
HOW OFTEN WILL YOU CHECK UP ON YOUR FINANCIAL PROGRESS? When finances affect two people rather than one, statements can become more important. Checking in on these details once a month (or at least once a quarter) may keep you both informed, so that neither one of you have misconceptions about household finances or assets. Arguments can be avoided when money misunderstandings are resolved through check ups.
WHAT DEGREE OF INDEPENDENCE DO YOU WANT TO MAINTAIN? Do you want to keep some money separate? Some spouses need individual financial “space” of their own. There is nothing wrong with this approach.
CAN YOU BE BUSINESSLIKE ABOUT YOUR FINANCES? Spouses who are inattentive or nonchalant about financial matters may encounter more financial trouble than they anticipate. So watch where your money goes, and think about ways to pay yourself first. Set shared short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY TO ALL THIS. Watching your progress together may well have benefits beyond the financial, so a regular conversation should be a goal.