Becoming one household
If you and your partner have different financial outlooks, having frank and ongoing discussions about money will be critical. Here are some topics to consider.
The better you communicate about money, the better your chances for a successful relationship. Take time to gain a clear picture of your financial future together. Clearly understanding the following can pay off down the road:
- Salaries or self-employment income
- Other sources of income (such as trusts, family support)
- Any additional money either of you expect to receive
- Credit scores
- Existing debts
- Insurance plans
- Interest and dividends from investments
The Net Worth Statement Worksheet is a great place to start.
Yours, mine & ours
Determining whether to pool assets or keep them separate, or deciding how you’ll handle income, expenses, saving and investing is an individual decision. There is no right or wrong answer. Some couples wouldn’t dream of keeping their finances separate. Others (especially if one partner brings substantially more assets or debt to the relationship) may wish to protect the assets they bring to the marriage with a prenup and/or a trust.
5 Steps to more honest financial conversations
You and your spouse/partner may be entering the relationship with very different financial values, attitudes, behaviors and resources. So careful planning and a lot of frank upfront and ongoing discussions about money will be critical.
Review your insurance
Could you save money by becoming a dependent on your partner’s health insurance rather than maintaining your own employer coverage? Do you need additional life or disability insurance coverage? Ask yourself these questions:
- Who relies on me and my income?
- How long could they maintain their current lifestyle with only our accumulated assets?
- What would happen to my loved ones if I can no longer earn an income?
- If I lost my job, could I afford to replace my insurance?
Take your time
You may want to jump right in and begin combining your finances. But mistakes can be very costly and difficult (if not impossible) to undo. So be thoughtful and deliberate, and ask questions that will help you avoid potential pitfalls such as:
For married couples, laws automatically protect the interest of spouses. However, that’s not necessarily the case with unmarried couples. So, it's critical that you establish and maintain documents that reflect your wishes for each other.
It’s always a good idea to consult your personal legal advisor before making any
1 CreditCards.com. April, 2019 (Latest Data Available).
2 Once individual assets become mingled with community property to the point they can't easily be separated (for example, depositing an inheritance you receive from your parents into a joint account), those funds legally become joint marital property.