Wedding bells and bank accounts
Now that you’ve found the person you want to spend your life with, figuring out your financial future together can lay the foundation for a happy union.
To share or not to share finances
Congratulations! You’ve made the big decision to get married. But deciding whether or not to unite your bank accounts? Well, that may prove to be a bit more difficult.
The best way to approach making this important decision is to consider the pros and cons of combining accounts . . . together. Here’s how.
You may want to combine finances if you:
- Can eliminate paying duplicate or unnecessary fees associated with not keeping a minimum balance in your account. By combining accounts, however, you may be able to satisfy the requirements and avoid check fees, ATM withdrawal fees or maintenance fees, for instance, that are automatically withdrawn from your account every month.
- Can qualify for valuable perks, such as: preferred interest rates on savings or discounts on loans, mortgages or home equity lines of credit . . . with a larger, combined balance.
- Prefer full transparency with each other’s spending habits so you have a clearer picture of your finances at any point in time.
- Want to make it easier to budget so you’re not constantly using peer-to-peer payment platforms to pay each other back for purchases and expenses.
- Share a similar philosophy about spending and saving as you work together to achieve towards larger financial goals, such as buying a new car, purchasing a house, or saving for retirement.
You may choose not to combine finances if you:
- Do not have the same views as your partner on how to spend and save money.
- Believe you will lose a degree of financial independence.
- Don’t want to share each other's assets and obligations, such as: alimony, child support, college tuition, outstanding debt, student loan payments and healthcare costs.
The bottom line is how you and your spouse choose to manage your finances is a personal choice. Just choose wisely.
A checklist for combining bank accounts
If you and your spouse already have accounts at the same bank, the process is simple. Both parties should be present, with valid IDs, then you can close one spouse's account completely, transfer their money to the other spouse's account, and add their name.
When opening a new checking or savings accounts with both spouses as account holders, or if one spouse is new to the bank, there will be a few more steps. Here’s a checklist to help make the process go smoothly:
- Visit your local banking center or website to access their application for a new account.
- In person, bring at least two forms of government-issued identification including a photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport.
- Have on hand your social security number or individual taxpayer identification number.
- Bring a utility bill with your current address information.
- Full contact information of the applicant, such as name, address, and phone number will likely be required.
- Know that student checking accounts may require proof of enrollment in an eligible school such as a student ID or acceptance letter.
Managing money in your marriage
Before you say "I do"
When you think about all the time, effort and attention to detail you spend planning the big day, doesn't it make sense to put that same effort into your new financial future? Before you walk down the aisle, set aside time to discuss the following with your partner:
- Financial standing. Make a comprehensive list of your assets and liabilities. Assets include personal property and savings, retirement accounts and cash-on-hand. Liabilities include monthly expenses, outstanding rolling debt (like credit cards) and one-time unique events like a honeymoon. The more detailed and honest your lists, the better.
- Savings. Determine how much you will contribute to savings and what you will use the funds for. There are a number of specialized accounts you can explore like 529 plans for college savings.
- Goals. Make a list of goals you want to accomplish together both in the near and not-so-near future.
- Budget. Decide how you will handle bill payments, shared expenses and discretionary spending.
- Prenuptial agreement. These are not just for the rich and famous. It could also be a wise move for you.
Explore more milestones
Buying your first home
Homeownership is a milestone to celebrate. Before you can open the door to your new life as a first-time homeowner, you'll need to prepare for the home-buying process.
Remodeling your home
Few things are as satisfying as a successful home improvement project. Before starting, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on potential pitfalls and learn to be a budget master.
Planning for your expanding family
Thinking about expanding your family? Some financial prep now can bring you some comfort and peace of mind for when your newest family member arrives.