If you’re a newlywed or getting married soon, it’s time to start talking with your significant other about money. Super romantic, we know, but listen: Being on the same page about money is a key part of having a successful marriage, because it sets you up for financial security today and into your golden years together!
And when you say “I do,” you’re committing to every part of each other—including your finances . . . and debt. So, put combining your finances on the to-do list. Work on it before the honeymoon sunburns fade! Need some help? Let’s talk about how to combine your finances as newlyweds.
Why Talk About Money?
Before we jump into the steps of combining your finances, let’s talk about why this is important. Money is the number one issue married couples fight about. In fact, according to our research, money fights are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity.
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Getting on the same page now doesn’t mean you’ll never have hard conversations in the future—but it will help you avoid fighting about money because you’ll be going in the same direction. Talking about money helps you lay the groundwork for a healthy marriage that stands the test of time.
Remember, when you get married, you become a we. It’s a big shift. And talking about money forces the two of you to discuss really important issues—like goals, dreams, how you want to retire, and what legacy you hope to leave.
These conversations build a shared vision in your marriage—which makes you more financially secure and stronger in your relationship. (P.S. Don’t wait until you’re pronounced husband and wife to have that first money talk. Here are the 5 questions to ask before marriage.)
How to Combine Your Finances
Listen: The process of combining your finances doesn’t have to add stress to your wedding planning or ruin your newlywed bliss. It won’t be as fun as snorkeling in the reef or backpacking through Europe together—but you could still make a date of it. Light some candles and turn on your fave romantic playlist: Here’s a quick five-step checklist to help you combine your finances:
1. Be honest.
2. Marry your bank accounts.
3. Make a plan for your financial future.
4. Start budgeting together.
5. Always put your relationship first.
1. Be Honest
Transparency is key! Be open and honest about your current individual situations, including your debt and your views on money. Figure out your money tendencies (for example: Are you a spender or saver? Do you prefer safety or status?) and talk about how they affect your money habits.
You might want to discuss what your parents taught you about money and what you do and don’t agree with—kindly, of course. Don’t be critical or judgmental if you disagree. Learn how to communicate effectively with your spouse.
2. “Marry” Your Bank Accounts
When you get married, you’ve got to combine your money into joint accounts. You’re becoming one, so your finances should too. If you keep this one area separated, it can lead to separation in other areas. Don’t. Go. There. Work together from a shared account to create accountability, honesty and a sense that you’re in this together! Because guess what? You are!
3. Make a Plan for Your Financial Future
Once everything is on the table, it’s time to make money goals! Figure out what Baby Step you’re on—as a couple. If you were on Baby Step 4, but your bride-to-be is on Baby Step 2, then guess what? You’re on Baby Step 2 now!
But that’s all right. You love this person with all of your heart—you’re planning on sharing all of your future together. The good, the bad, the debt—all of it.
Set priorities together and make a plan to move through the Baby Steps together. Take a class like Financial Peace University (now a Ramsey+ exclusive) so you can know how to set and tackle all these money goals together.
4. Start Budgeting Together
Before you get married, you should already start talking budgets. You shouldn’t combine your accounts or budget together completely, but some trial runs to see how you’ll work together this way is a great idea.
Once you’re married, you’ll start budgeting together for real. Every dollar of your incomes—every month. Make sure it happens by putting a date on the calendar each month for your budget meeting.
Don’t skip this step. Creating a budget as a couple is how you make your money goals actually happen.
5. Always Put Your Relationship First
If you want a satisfying relationship, you have to make your finances—and working on them together—a priority from the start. Couples who agree about money and have healthy finances almost always have a better marriage overall.
And lots of couples find that being on the same page about money improves all aspects of their relationship. Like Dave says, “When you can talk about money, you can talk about anything.” Because money comes with baggage and can make us all uncomfortable sometimes—but working through that past and setting goals together is how you grow stronger in the now and the future.
If you want some more pointers on starting that money talk with your significant other, or if you have a specific question about combining your finances, talk to a financial coach. Our coaches have helped countless couples just like you. Tap into their experience and wisdom. One free session could do wonders for your marriage—and your life.