Should you combine your finances after getting married?

Approximately 50% of American couples facing financial issues admit that the tension negatively impacts their relationship. The same data also found that financial infidelity is enough to bring an end to a staggering 40% of relationships, which is why a prenuptial agreement may seem appealing to some.1

Money has the potential to be the source of a lot of conflict for couples, especially when one partner is a saver and the other a spender. It's important to recognize that people have different feelings and behaviors when it comes to money and finance management. Some people may be anxious, or scattered, while others might be very organized. Emotions, family influences as well as logic and past behavioral patterns can all play a part in coordinating, or conflicting, financial viewpoints.

With so many different perspectives on money management, should you combine your finances when you get married? Let’s look at some pros and cons of combining your finances after tying the knot.

The pros of joint bank accounts 

Combining finances with a spouse or partner after marriage can offer a more complete view of household finances, allowing for better daily management and long-term strategies for financial goals. Financial teamwork can offer multiple additional benefits as well.  

Less stress

When you combine your finances with your spouse, you create a system of checks and balances that can ensure payments are made on time. This eliminates the need for one partner to remind or question the other about paying bills, which can lead to resentment.

A joint bank account can also help couples have honest conversations about money, manage and monitor spending to avoid debt, and stay on the same page when it comes to budgeting and making financial decisions. This can help create financial harmony and avoid monetary stress for everyone involved.

Deeper connection

Combining finances with your spouse can help foster trust and transparency, as both of you are responsible for each other’s financial security. Merging finances and philosophies can also create a solid foundation of trust that stretches beyond money management. 

More financial benefits

Placing a couple’s money all in one place can be a powerful tool to help them reach financial goals faster.

By merging finances after marriage, you can take advantage of the power of compounding interest and watch your wealth grow faster. This also gives couples more financial freedom and flexibility with the ability to access funds when needed and make larger purchases more quickly.

The downsides of joint bank accounts 

While there are clear benefits to combining finances after marriage, there are also adjustments that will need to be made by both sides coming together on the account.  

Relationship strains

Sharing finances with a spouse requires a high level of trust. If one partner has a history of poor financial decisions it can be tough to maintain a trusting relationship. A couple has to be prepared to completely and honestly lay out their financials prior to combining finances so there are no surprises.

Or one individual may have more knowledge in finances than another which can make the less knowledgeable individual feel less equal in the relationship as its related to finances.

Different money philosophies can also clash when combining finances with your spouse, leading to disagreements about managing, saving, spending, and investing. Discussing money openly and understanding each other's goals before combining finances is essential to alleviate this issue.

Less control

Combining finances with your spouse means you have less control and freedom over your earnings. In many cases, you will both have to agree on financial decisions, which can lead to conflict if one partner violates that agreement. Conflict can also occur if one partner feels that the other is taking more control or power in financial situations. Acknowledging mistakes or conflicts and finding a road forward is a challenging, but essential part of this process. 

Things to consider before combining finances 

Before deciding whether to join your accounts or keep separate finances, couples can discuss several financial considerations.

When filling financial roles in a relationship, establishing clear responsibilities can help prevent surprises or mixups along the way. Agree on which account or task each person will manage to ensure that nothing gets done twice or forgotten. This will help reduce the risk of financial mismanagement and ensure the timely completion of financial tasks while also continuing to promote transparency and cooperation.

Establishing limits on spending can also help, whether that looks like setting a maximum dollar amount one partner can spend on a purchase without needing discussion, or even setting a set amount of money each partner can spend in a week.

Making a financial strategy together can also help couples join their goals in more than just external accounts. Discuss and agree on short-term and long-term financial goals when combining finances to set up a budget, make informed decisions for spending, saving, and investments, and avoid fighting over finances.

Building a financially secure future together 

Before getting married, many people are accustomed to having autonomy over their finances. Some may appreciate this while others may benefit from separate expenses and a partner offering guidance. Successful relationships often decide on a financial approach that works for both partners, whether it is sharing all assets, keeping finances completely separate, or a mixture of both. 

1Relationship Intimacy Being Crushed By Financial Tension: AICPA Survey,” AICPA, 02/04/2021

This article is provided for general informational purposes only. Neither New York Life Insurance Company, nor its agents, provides tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, or accounting professional before making any decisions.

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