Tip of the Month: Marriage & Money
We’re in the middle of wedding season, and during this time, there’s a lot of advice that couples receive ahead of their big day. While there’s so much to be excited about when planning a life together, remember that it’s important that you spend time considering the little details that will make your marriage a success. While financial issues can complicate any relationship, a little forethought will ensure you and your spouse gracefully balance money and marriage throughout your future together.
Money and Marriage: 10 Tips for a Healthy Relationship
At Fort Pitt Capital Group, we know that learning how to share finances in marriage will make life easier for you and your spouse. Here are a few of our tips for navigating finances in marriage.
1. Communicate With Each Other
While never going to bed angry and learning to compromise are certainly aspects that may help the marriage last, we believe that one word should be at the foundation of every loving union: Communication.
Communicating is essential for many aspects of a relationship. More specifically, communicating about money is an important item to address ahead of any union. When you marry another person, you don’t just marry them — you also marry their finances.
Tip: Always communicate. Talking as a couple about your financials can be uncomfortable at first, but it should really begin before the ceremony. It’s crucial to get a sense of where each of you stands. Topics to get you started include:
- Goals: Where do you see yourself financially in 5-10 years? Are children, homeownership, vacations, etc., in the picture?
- Debts: “What’s mine is yours” is real for credit scores and debt too.
- Savings: Do you and your partner have any? If not, how do you plan to establish savings for surprise expenses?
Once you and your significant other have a few open and honest conversations about these core elements, you’ll not only have a better picture of the person you’re about to marry, but your marriage will benefit from having an honest and solid foundation as well.
2. Practice Transparency
Financial communication should continue as you work toward your financial goals, and transparency is essential. You should each be open and honest about any financial decision, especially major purchases. It’s nearly impossible for a couple to enact a purposeful financial strategy without accurate information.
3. Develop a Plan to Reach Your Goals
Now that you and your spouse actively and transparently communicate with each other to set financial goals, it’s time to create a plan to achieve those results. Your plan should consider the combined income you and your spouse earn, how much money you need for expenses, and the amount you can put away each month. Determine a thorough budget for your plan and stick to it.
4. Set a Couple’s Budget
Determining a budget is a critical part of achieving any financial goal. Budgeting may become a bit more complicated when you have a spouse, but it’s still manageable. In fact, you might find budgeting even easier when you work as a team.
To get started, gather your monthly bills and income statements as you would when setting a personal budget. And since you’re getting married soon, factor in upcoming expenses like your wedding ceremony, engagement photos, and your honeymoon. Add your monthly expenses together and subtract them from your combined monthly earnings as a couple. You’ll see how much you need to set aside for bills, how much you can save, and what you’ll have left to spend.
5. Discuss Investment Possibilities
When you know how much money you should save each month, you can discuss ways to make it grow. Investing as a married couple takes some thought and communication. You and your betrothed should discuss the types of investments you’d be willing to make and your individual tolerance for risk.
Be open about your thoughts and listen so that your investments are comfortable for both of you.
6. Open a Joint Account
You and your spouse are stronger together, and that truth applies to your finances, too. A joint account is a bank checking, savings, or credit account with both your and your spouse’s names on it.
You can use a joint account to pay shared bills like rent, mortgage, or utilities. Your joint account can also fund your joint investments. Opening a joint account will facilitate financial transparency and build trust early in your marriage.
7. Keep Some Assets Separate
While joint accounts are useful for married couples, separating some financial matters is also wise. Maintaining personal checking and savings accounts in addition to your joint accounts will help your financial and mental stability as a couple.
Keeping separate bank accounts will contribute to the sense of freedom and independence you need for a successful marriage. Plus, you’ll both keep your financial skills sharp rather than allowing one person to control all financial matters.
8. Update Wills and Other Legal Documents
You want your spouse to stay financially stable if the unthinkable happens. Get ahead of the situation by updating your will, insurance policies, and retirement accounts to ensure your spouse is a beneficiary. You can update these documents numerous times throughout life, so review and change everything as needed during your marriage, especially if you plan to expand your family.
9. Avoid Competition
Spite can drive a wedge in a relationship, especially when money is involved. As a married couple, you and your spouse are a financial team. You each play a critical role in the partnership, regardless of who earns what. After all, the two of you share income, and every dollar is for the betterment of your family. Even if life becomes frustrating, remember that you and your spouse are on the same side.
10. Seek Financial Consultation
Once married, set up meetings with an advisor regularly so that you both stay on track with your mutual goals. The right consultant will help you navigate your joint financial situation and find opportunities to expand your wealth. Whether it’s handling your taxes, building an investment portfolio, or panning for new expenses, a financial advisor can make a major difference.
Discuss Financial Services With a Fort Pitt Capital Group Advisor
Following these tips will help put you and your spouse on the path toward a long, prosperous marriage. The advisors at Fort Pitt have plenty of experience assisting new couples plan and achieve their financial goals. We encourage you to view our Individual Services or contact us online to see how you and your spouse will benefit from working with Fort Pitt Capital Group.