If you’re recently married, at some point you’ll be faced with a big decision: how to merge finances. (And if you’ve been married for a couple of years, but finally deciding to merge finances with your spouse, this article is for you, too.) Here are five tips that will help you and your spouse work in perfect financial harmony.
- Have regular meetings. Don’t remain in the dark about your individual and household finances. Regularly meet to discuss savings goals, big purchases, and your overall progress. Write down your short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals. Make sure that you hold meetings at a time when you’re both relaxed and ready to talk.
Share your financial history. Be open about your financial track record. Share information such as any financial snags, your salary, where you currently bank, and how much you have in your bank accounts. Honesty is the best policy. Don’t lie about extra money or secretly open up a new bank account to hide money or large purchases you didn’t discuss as a couple. This is sure to cause strife between the two of you.
- Draft a plan. Once you’ve had a few meetings and worked out the kinks, work on drafting a financial plan. This plan should include a household budget.
- Agree on where you’ll bank. Take time to research the best banks for your needs. The bank where you currently do business might have worked for you individually, but will it work for you as a couple? A good Website to visit is Bankrate, which allows you to compare rates as well as check the financial stability of banking institutions.
- Decide how bills will be paid. Determine if you’ll split all the bill payments in half, if one partner pays some bills and the other pays the rest, or some other arrangement. Once that has been agreed upon, set up automatic bill payments so that you don’t accidentally forget to pay a bill.
- Share your financial fears. It’s OK to be vulnerable. We all have some fears related to money, whether it’s not making enough, losing it, or mishandling it. Discuss these issues and help each other work through them. Remember that you’re each other’s greatest support.
For more on this topic, come back to BlackEnterprise.com and look for the Love & Money post each Wednesday.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.