The preparation and planning of a marriage is an exciting time which usually involves cake, flowers and guest lists. But, an equally important (and less romantic) aspect of planning is discussing how your financials will change. Marriage brings some pretty serious changes to the state of your previously independent financial situation. According to a new study, 26% of couples reported money problems as their biggest relationship stressor.
Before walking down the aisle, here are four questions to discuss with your future spouse.
Should you and your spouse have separate accounts, a joint account or both? Many newly married couples choose to join their monetary assets to ease the process of paying bills. Some couples choose to have a joint account and separate accounts to easily manage their own separate spending. There’s no right answer for everyone, but assessing you and your fiancé’s spending habits before the wedding will give you a better idea as to what will work best for your relationship.
Listen up, you will always have your own credit score. We don’t know where this myth originated but it is a common misconception that your credit score will reset with your marriage. For good or bad, your previous credit score won’t be affected by your spouse’s once you get married. However, when you decide to open a joint bank account or apply for a loan together any subsequent transactions can affect both you and your spouse’s credit scores.
Another important decision you and your future spouse will have to make regards your tax filing status: whether you will file joint or separate taxes. To determine the correct filing status for your financial situation, the IRS offers these tips. Combining your incomes will make your total household income higher and could potentially bump you into a higher tax bracket. Paying more income tax as a couple rather than two individuals is called a “marriage penalty.” You can use this marriage penalty calculator to find out how much you would have to pay if you filed together or separately.
When you get married you have the option to share plans and benefits. If you both have jobs with benefits you can choose the policy that offers the best benefits for both of you. You also have the option to make changes to your insurance plans after you get married. According to the DMV married couples are less likely to get into an accident than unmarried people, so most car insurance providers offer multiple vehicle discounts and other money saving options for married couples.
Talking about your finances with your partner will be an ongoing process, and just like your relationship, it will evolve with time. Open and honest communication will go a long way towards a stress-free marriage.