Congratulations, you’re getting married. Have you talked to your partner about how to share and manage your money? Here are four important questions to start that conversation.
1. What do you have and what do you owe?
Having a frank conversation about your assets and debts may not seem very romantic, but it can help you avoid arguments and problems down the road. Share your credit ratings too, so there are no surprises. Now that you have a starting point, you can build your finances together.
2. What are your shared and individual goals?
Do you plan to buy a home? Start a family? Travel the world? Would one or both of you like to take time away from work to volunteer, go back to school or write a novel? Be as specific as you can be about your shared and individual goals. Then set timelines and saving targets to help make them happen. If you don’t have a budget this is the time to create one. Take the opportunity to discuss goals with a financial planner so you start with the best approach for you.
3. How will you set up your banking?
Some couples choose how many accounts to merge, depending on their preferences and unique situations; and just as important, what to keep separate. The main advantage to having a joint account is to pay shared expenses. Some options to consider:
- Deposit income into a joint account from which you pay all bills
- Contribute equal amounts or an equal percentage of income to a joint account from which you pay all bills, and keep separate bank accounts too
- Designate specific bills for each partner to pay from separate bank accounts
4. Can you save on taxes?
Once you’re married, you might be able to reduce your household taxes with:
- Spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plan contributions
- Spousal Tax-free Savings Account contributions
- Pooled charitable and political donations
- Spousal loans at the prescribed interest rate
Maximize these and other available tax breaks with professional advice from an advisor or accountant.
Your marriage is a financial partnership as well as a life partnership. Set yours up for success with open, early and frequent money talks. Discuss and agree on what works best for you as a couple, and stay flexible as your situation and needs change.