The following is a post from staff writer Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting for the fun stuff along the way.
Daniel’s engagement led me to think about my own engagement about 9 years ago. Mr. BFS and I were pretty much living together already and had already made plans for our future, so the engagement itself was more a formality than anything else. We also started looking at combining financed but were waiting until my name was officially changed to make everything easier. Here are a few tips for anybody looking to combine their finances.
It is important for newly married couples to establish the ground rules for banking transactions that occur when combining finances. One spouse may be accustomed to relaxed spending while the other is used to itemized budgets. That is why it is so important to create a joint plan that both parties agree to.
My husband was not a spendthrift, but he wasn’t as detail-oriented (aka anal) as me either. When we decided to combine our finances, we agreed that I would run the budget since I cared and we picked out our target amounts together. We also eventually started giving ourselves fun money allowances so he could spend on hobbies without me freaking out all the time. It has worked out great!
I know some couples prefer to keep things separate, but I lean towards fully combining a couple’s finances. It makes it easier for me to budget. Joint accounts will also give both partners equal access to all of the money to write checks, make deposits, and conduct business. A joint account usually means less paperwork and makes keeping up with transactions much easier.
Whether you prefer joint accounts or not, the key is to simply agree on a plan together. Everything else is just details.
Having the same automobile, life, and health insurance policies can mean that both of you will spend much less out of pocket on premiums. You can qualify for multiple vehicle coverage if you have two or more cars. Being married can also mean lower rates because married people statistically have longer life spans and are deemed more stable by insurance companies.
My husband and I got married young. I was 22 and he was 21. His car insurance premiums plummeted when we got our joint policy. Apparently, a 21 year old male is high risk but a married 21 year old male is not. I doubt his driving improved overnight, but we appreciated the savings.
Most married couples can save on tax liabilities by filing their taxes jointly. A couple with a combined household income of $80,000 will pay less in taxes than two single taxpayers who make $40,000 each. It makes sense to file separately if one spouse makes significantly more money than the other or if your combined adjusted gross income is incredibly high. Otherwise, it makes sense to use the same accountant or tax software and file your return together.
I personally loved this part since it meant I never had to file another return again. My husband enjoys doing our taxes, and I think it completely stinks, so I happily print out the necessary documentation, make lists of the numbers he needs, and then I can just let it go. It’s a fantastic part of being married in my opinion.
What other tips do you have for a couple combining their finances for the first time?