You’ve found your one true love, a person who you can share an ice cream with, a pet with, a home and now your bank accounts too. That’s when an engagement becomes most real. You truly become a two-person team in the game of love when you combine financial resources and debt. Engagement, however, doesn’t come with standard instructions, and neither does combining finances. But, with the right planning, you can merge your income and financing smoothly and smartly, freeing your time to solve other issues, such a whose turn it is to do the dishes.
Combine Finances or Keep Them Separate?
All for one and one for all may work well for Musketeers, but for couples planning to marry, sharing finances can put a strain on the relationship. A couple doesn’t have to share all finances. Separate bank accounts can keep the harmony between you two, but perhaps there are some accounts that can be shared. This provides each person to control some of his and her spending and can help avoid petty squabbles. Some couples may believe, however, any separate accounts could lead to selfishness, which isn’t good for the team. Basically, it comes down to how each one of you feel, how fiscally responsible you are and what you’re both comfortable with as far as handling money.
Financial planner and certified public accountant Kelley Long believes having separate accounts for an engaged couple is necessary to maintain a good, healthy relationship. Although you and your loved one are entering into an eternal affair, individually, each of you can keep some sense of financial independence and autonomy by keeping accounts separate. Long notes that constant communication and not withholding any secrets can assure a couple’s success and happiness.
When combining accounts, each of you must talk about debt and saving, two issues that can stress a relationship if not kept in check. How you work it out will depend on each couple. Perhaps you agree to put a limit on indulgent spending or agree to talk about certain purchases first. However you choose to handle it, it’s important to establish guidelines that each of you can agree on from the beginning.
Maintaining & Protecting Your Financial Plan
Whether you keep some financial accounts separate or share everything, couples entering into marriage need to establish what you have financially and how you plan to maintain it and protect it. Making and sharing a list of your separate debts, such as student loans, car payments and credit cards, and discussing each other’s credit status can help you, as a couple, establish what you can spend and invest and what you both need to save up for. You may or may not share separate financial accounts, but you can both create a savings goal together, which can benefit you for both vacation spending and retirement.
Protecting all your assets is another step in a solid, loving — and secured — relationship. This includes drafting certain legal documents, like a will, and getting health and insurance details worked out and setting up a protection plan in case of a natural disaster or identity theft. As a couple, there is more sensitive information to protect, thus adding identity theft protection like Lifelock can provide you some assurance you can keep your finances intact and safe. These types of assurances can help your relationship blossom without being stressed about the many financial issues that can come up in a marriage.