Marriage and Money Management: How to Merge Finances
Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
When you’re in a committed relationship, you and your significant other may consider opening a joint account in order to help you manage your money and household budget. Doing so can help you save money, but it can also cause big headaches.
For this reason, merging bank accounts should only be done after the two of you have several thorough and thoughtful conversations.
Open the lines of communication
Stephen Mack, a Certified Financial Planner and president of Mack Investment Securities, Inc., says clear and ongoing communication about finances early in the relationship is paramount to laying the groundwork for a strong marriage. The ideal time to actually merge bank accounts is after marriage, when there is a legal commitment between both partners.
However, Mack says, before you even think about the ring, the wedding, and the honeymoon, you need to talk finances.
Skipping the money discussion early on can lead to significant problems later. Having the conversation up front gives you a deeper understanding of each other’s personal and financial goals, the kind of debts you currently have and are willing to take on in the future, and your individual comfort levels on future spending and saving.
Ask the right questions
Carefully planning for monthly expenses eases the transition from thinking only about oneself to the needs of a whole family. Yet even in the strongest relationships, the process of shifting one’s mindset to consider the other person’s needs—and spending habits—can be tricky.
Mack encourages couples that are considering merging accounts to think about a number of factors before proceeding:
Clearly outline responsibilities
Establishing good habits from the beginning can set you and your partner on a path toward success. Mack encourages a team approach, where both partners have an ATM card or checks, and withdrawals are immediately recorded.
Still, there can be mistakes, especially if you rely heavily on online banking instead of recording your spending in a checkbook.
Typically, balancing and tracking falls to one partner, but both you and your significant other should be reviewing and keeping up with your goals (savings for future needs, education, retirement, and so on) on a routine basis.
If you aren’t comfortable merging all of your finances, consider maintaining separate accounts in addition to the joint account. You can designate one of the accounts to pay the mortgage or other specific expenses.
Ideally in this situation both partners will have access to everything, and it’s all about openness and transparency. “No secrets,” Mack says. “Clear, open, and continual dialogue and disclosure is the key to success.”
Elizabeth Abrams is a freelance writer and communications specialist. Throughout her 15 years working in public relations she has secured media placements in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and on CNN, to name a few. In addition to operating her own agency, Elizabeth Abrams Communications LLC, she has contributed to several media outlets including Yahoo! Homes, Chicago Parent Magazine, MOMeo.com and BabbaCo.com. Elizabeth’s writing focuses on information and experiences impacting parents, children and families.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.