Before marriage, you have your own finances established. You have bank accounts and full control of your budget. However, once you marry, the finances begin to shift. You now have to decide on whether to join monies with your spouse or keep your own account but open a separate one just for the two. Then, there are mutual household bills to pay. How will you decide to split the bills? Who is the responsible party for the household budget?
Oftentimes, couples marry and then discuss the finances, which can cause tension and arguments. One of you may want sole control of the budget while the other feels he should have control. Financial problems stem from lack of understanding how the finances will function in your household.
My husband and I have been married for more than nine years and we keep separate accounts. We were both against joining monies and even opening another account together. Those decisions were made before marrying, which helped avoid disagreements that usually take place when couples are not on the same page. However, not all couples think along these lines. They wait until the last-minute to have the chat.
Here are four tips on how you and your future spouse should decide your finances:
Who is more discipline with the budget?
In most relationships, there is one person who likes spending a little more than the other, is more laid back on making full payments and pays the bills late. Therefore, the person who is strict with keeping a set budget should have the control. This being said, you and your spouse should be involved in the budget process. Both should know where the monies are going. But at the end of the day, one person will keep a close eye on the budget so there are no discrepancies.
Do you continue with separate or joint accounts?
Many couples join their monies after marriage. What is his is yours and what is yours is his. However, more couples are using a modern method – maintaining their own accounts. Though there is nothing wrong with either decision, it is important to discuss the matter before marriage so there are no surprises or false expectations. If you decide to keep your own accounts but do not want to offend each other, open a separate joint account solely for the household bills.
Do you divide the bills equally or pay a percentage?
Many couples – including my husband and I – choose to divide the bills equally, while other couples use percentages. They break down each bill based on salaries. For example, you make $500 more than your spouse, so your spouse believes you should pay a higher amount on the bills.
If you plan on having children, do you keep a separate account for them?
Couples who project a family of their own begin to invest in advance. They open a savings account for their children's expenses. If you have plans of starting a family, it's wise to open a joint account and deposit whatever amount possible.
It is helpful to have all the finances in order and know who will be in charge of the budget before saying "I do." By doing so, you and your spouse are entering marriage with a financial plan in place – and a lower risk of financial distress.
Mayra Colón is a freelance writer, former independent author and avid reader. She holds a MBA from the University of Phoenix and completed the Freelance Writing and Selling Online course from Rutgers University of Arts and Sciences.