So you're tying the knot. Congratulations! But before you say "I do," have you and your partner discussed the financial realities of becoming legally wed? Romantic or not, now is the perfect time to discuss joining financial accounts and credit histories and merging your incomes from that of two singles into a shared household.
Odds are that you and your partner will be taking on some shared loans sometime in the future. Whether it's a home mortgage or a new car loan, your credit scores will have an impact on each other. Be upfront about any loan defaults, identity theft issues, large credit card balances or anything else that you don't want to come as a shock to your partner later on down the road. Now is a great time to take steps to make a positive impact on your credit score.
Many couples are very successful at opening joint checking and savings accounts right off the bat and making it work for both partners. But others want to retain a bit of financial independence by keeping their individual accounts intact. This is a major area you and your future spouse will want to discuss and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. To some, reluctance to merge accounts may appear to be a sign of distrust. But from a practical standpoint, it's a good option for some couples. These days, many people have their accounts wired in for direct deposits, automatic deductions and all kinds of other purposes that makes changing accounts a headache. Another concern arises for couples on a tight budget. Having two people drawing off the same account can result in overdrafts and other unpleasant issues. A happy medium reached by some couples is to keep the individual accounts intact, but link the accounts and put both names on each one. Make this decision before tying the knot. You'll be glad you did.
If you and your future spouse are merging your separate households together, you'll want to discuss how the expenses are going to be divided. Couples with joint accounts often designate responsibility to one partner for paying the bills and managing the accounts. Couples that choose to maintain their own individual accounts often divide the expenses and pay the bills individually. It's important to balance income level with monthly expenditures, however, and be sure you are flexible if need be. Tying the knot makes you equal partners!