Combining finances after marriage doesn’t mean the same thing to every couple. At a minimum, it means being on the same page about your money and sharing a joint vision.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, joining your finances with your spouse could mean combining all of your bank accounts and other assets (and debts).
Follow these tips to find the perfect blend for your new family.
Know Where You Both Stand Financially
You’ve shared your hopes and dreams, and now it’s time to share your financial history if you haven’t already. Work together to discover your joint net worth. This involves reviewing both your assets (like savings and investments) and your debts.
Simply add up all your savings and property values, then subtract your debts owed, such as your mortgage, car payment and credit card debt.
Figuring out if your net worth is negative or positive can help point you in the right direction for financial goals.
Merge Bank Accounts
Merging bank accounts may not be for everyone, but many couples do. It helps with transparency in knowing exactly how much money you have. It also makes paying bills a lot easier.
Learning how to merge bank accounts isn’t complicated. Choose your bank or credit union, and create new checking and savings accounts.
Also remember to switch any automatic bill pay accounts you’ve set up so you don’t accidentally miss payments. To make sure you get all this done, set up a calendar appointment together and stick to it.
Update Your Beneficiaries
No matter what age you are, combining your finances also involves estate planning — figuring out what happens to your money after you die.
Make sure any accounts that are not joint (such as an employer 401(k) plan) have your spouse as the beneficiary. Not only should you name your spouse as a beneficiary, but you should also keep each other updated on account information.
If one of you does pass away unexpectedly, the surviving spouse will have a much easier time locating all of those accounts if they’ve been in the loop all along.
Make a Will Together
Creating a will together is another part of financial planning as a married couple. Not only does your will divvy up your assets to your heirs, it also contains other important information.
You can give someone (such as your spouse) power of attorney in case you ever become unable to manage your financial decisions yourself.
Additionally, you can include advance healthcare directives to outline how you each would like to be treated when faced with certain medical decisions.
Talking about money and death may not seem like the best date night with your spouse. But combining your finances requires this level of depth so you can truly support each other throughout the different stages of life.