Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?
Be prepared to talk finances and manage your money jointly as a newlywed couple.
Whether you’ve just tied the knot or you’re planning to take the leap soon, you might be making some major financial changes in the near future. Ask the following essential questions and talk with your partner about whether to combine bank accounts before or after saying, “I do.”
Should you combine your bank accounts?
It’s a big question, but don’t worry: You have options. You might see a shared account as a sign of trust and partnership, but you may also have valid reasons for maintaining separate accounts.
Some newlyweds open a joint account while, at the same time, keeping individual accounts for things like personal purchases and pre-existing debts. This best-of-both-worlds strategy can make it easier to keep track of shared bills or other family expenses, and it helps couples retain some of their financial independence. You may find it easier to earmark money for emergencies or future savings goals when you have an extra account to hold it.
Don’t forget that you can always decide to unify more of your assets later. Recent data has shown that the longer couples stay together, the more likely they are to keep their money in joint accounts. Take your time and make a gradual transition.
What assets and debt do you have?
It might seem like suddenly you have more money from combining your incomes, but do you really? Check in on each other’s financial standings to make sure you know how much money you actually have to spend.
If you want to budget, save and plan for the future successfully, you and your spouse should discuss any existing debt or assets you’re bringing to the marriage, including student loan debt and major purchases.
What kind of future will you build together?
You got married to build a future together, right? Get started by talking about your dreams and how to support them with your financial goals. Now is the best time to consider major lifestyle choices, like saving up for travel, future education or retirement plans.
Does being married save on taxes?
Is it best for you two to file joint tax returns? Does being married save on taxes? It depends on your circumstances. There are many factors to consider when doing your taxes as a couple. Consult a tax advisor to review the options that may potentially save you on taxes once you are married.
How will your assets be affected?
Most couples combine their assets by opening up joint accounts, but some assets cannot be combined. For instance, accounts like IRAs can’t be joined. But you may be able to make a spousal IRA contribution on behalf of your spouse who doesn’t work or whose income is sufficiently low. In such a case, having a clear idea of which partner can claim which assets can help you establish your contribution eligibility.
Additionally, people with high credit scores often add their spouses to their accounts instead of getting entirely new credit cards.
Before making a huge change, think about the potential benefits of different banking arrangements, and discuss your options thoroughly before making a decision.