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Managing your money can be tough enough when it’s just you. However, combining your finances with a spouse can be overwhelming. Don’t expect to get it all right straight away. The two of you will need to work a few things out and give yourself enough time to do so. 

Talk About Your Finances

It’s smart to talk about your finances well before you get married. If you haven’t, start having these conversations as soon as possible. You will need to go over what accounts you have and any debt that you carry. You also should be very clear about how you expect any money to be handled, whether it’s agreeing on large purchases or sorting out wills

For example, if you would prefer that your spouse discuss any purchases of over £150 with you, you need to let them know. Talk about the reason behind how you want to approach your finances, and how it will make you feel.

Make sure each of you has a good understanding of where both of you stand financially as a couple and any expectations that the other person has. Money is one of the leading stressors in modern society and a leading cause of relationship breakdown; talking upfront and during your relationship about your finances is so important to avoid any conflict around money matters. 

Write Down Goals

After you have determined your baseline financial status, then you should take the time to discuss you long-term financial goals in more depth. For example, do you hope to retire by a certain age? Do you have debts you need to clear? Do you want to save a housing deposit by a set time? If you choose to hire a financial advisor, then they will want to know these kinds of things. 

Agree on goals such as sticking to a budget each month, becoming a one-income family, or buying a house. Write down all these goals and review them periodically to check that you’re on track. You’ll have a much better chance of success if you do. 

As a financial coach who works with couples, I helpthem set both joint goals and individual ones; I believe this serves well to motivate people both as a couple and individually.

Discuss Bank Accounts

You might think that all you need to do is change your bank account into your new name and that’s it, but actually there’s more to discuss here. There are pros and cons to opening a joint bank account and to maintaining your own individual accounts after you get married. 

Combining your accounts can make your finances more simple, and can help to breed trust in a marriage. It can also be valuable if one spouse chooses to take on more of the household or child-rearing duties than the other, creating inequality in income. 

However, some level of independence is often preferable to many couples. Be aware though that this can make it easy for either you or your spouse to hide purchases or spending habits from each other. On the plus side, keeping separate bank accounts can give you a little bit of protection in the event of a divorce, preventing your spouse from cleaning out a joint account and leaving.

Discuss these options in-depth with your spouse and decide what makes you both most comfortable. 

For many couples, the answer lies somewhere in the middle, with each of you maintaining your own accounts for day to day spending, but setting up a joint account for household expenses and savings that you’re making together.