First Person: How We Combined Our Finances After Marriage

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My wife and I have had good two-way communication since we met. And it's no different when it comes to money. That's not to say though that we didn't have our financial differences when we first got together. While we weren't complete opposites in our views of personal finance, we certainly weren't on the same page. This meant that there were some issues to work through after we got married and began combining the various facets of our financial lives.

Here were some of the financial obstacles that we encountered when melding our personal finances after marriage and how we managed to work through them.

Communication

It can be difficult to learn how to communicate regarding finances after marriage and learn how to talk to a significant other about money and finances. Thankfully, my wife and I had a head start on this aspect since we'd known and lived together for years in advance to our ever getting married.

However, to ensure that we maintained our openness and honesty about money, we did several things. First off, since I handled much of our finances and financial tracking, I communicated regularly with my wife. This involved doing the following:

  • Informing her of a balanced checkbook
  • Reviewing our overall financial picture with her monthly
  • Ensuring that she knew the location of and passwords for various financial documents
  • Explaining various policies and coverage amounts for insurance
  • Reviewing pertinent adjustments or changes in any policies, accounts, or finances that we held

This not only helped keep my wife informed regarding our personal finances, but it helped teach her about them as well.

Combination and Tracking

Maybe one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with money after marriage is knowing when, where, and how to combine two sets of personal finances. We found that time takes care of some such issues, as it's just easier in many instances to hold one account versus multiple accounts; however, I like to be able to gauge my own personal financial progress. My wife on the other hand, cares little about such progress.

Therefore, while we combined many aspects of our financial life, such as our checking accounts, savings accounts, safety deposit box, etc., I still find it interesting and pertinent to my financial life to track my own income, expenses, and similar information. This allows us to work together in many ways, yet still lets me gauge aspects of both our combined and separate financial lives to determine better ways to earn, save, and spend.

Making Financial Decisions

Another financial hurdle can be the making of financial decisions. In our relationship, I'm the financial leader, but we still take the preferences, ideas, and needs of both sides into the financial decision-making process. There is often a scenario that plays out, and thankfully, one of us usually ends up playing devil's advocate during this scenario. It goes something like this:

  1. One of us gets really excited about a purchase or financial opportunity and explains our idea to the other.
  2. The opposing spouse shows interest and excitement but is tempered by things like costs, location, accessibility, or whatever other possible downsides the situation might present.
  3. The restraint of the first spouse, tempers the eagerness of the second spouse, causing him or her to think more logically about their idea.
  4. Both sides agree to think about the idea further, discussing it, researching it, and giving one another time to let the idea sink in before moving forward on it.

By following this standard scenario, we are typically able to thoroughly explore our thoughts and ideas on certain financial decisions, often helping to avoid jumping into something that one or both of us might later regret.

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