How to Handle a Husband & Wife's Money as a Married Couple

Making the transition from single life to married life often involves new experiences. Managing your finances is one of the more significant transitions that you face almost immediately after taking a trip down the aisle. Although there is not one “right” way to handle a husband and wife’s money as a married couple, following a few suggestions will make married life a little sweeter.

Work Together

Communicate about your styles of financial management as soon as possible to figure out what money management style might work for your marriage. The rules of commingling accounts are changing as more couples opt for creative approaches to money management. The best approach is to sit down and talk about both partners’ styles of saving and spending money. The results of this conversation will help determine how you proceed.

Make a monthly budget together so you both know exactly how much income you have and the expenses you must pay each month. After you allocate money for all expenses, savings and investments, agree to how you will divide the money left over for incidental spending.

Joint Versus Separate Accounts

Create one joint account if you decide that you both have similar saving and spending mindsets, and you want to place all your money together to manage together. This account will be the account you use for monthly expenses such as mortgage, auto loans, credit card bills and utility bills. You will also use this account for other spending throughout the month such as food, clothing, entertainment and incidentals.

Create separate accounts if you decide that you wish to keep at least some of your money separate. Some couples may create three accounts — one joint account and a separate account for each partner. Each partner places a predetermined amount of money in the joint account at regular intervals, and that account is used for paying fixed expenses such as mortgage, auto loans and other loans.

You might also pay expenses such as gas, groceries, credit card bills and utility bills out of this joint account. Use the separate accounts for entertainment, clothing and incidental expenditures. Another option is to create just two separate accounts and decide which partner will pay each monthly expense out of the separate accounts.

Other Considerations

If one or both partners enter a marriage with debt, use a constructive approach to resolve the debt together. Instead of isolating the debt as one partner’s responsibility to resolve, work to find a solution. Some couples may need to consider a prenuptial agreement to protect assets from the other spouse’s creditors in the event of a negative credit situation. Consult an attorney if this is the case.

If you place all funds in one joint account, it’s important to monitor spending or it may get away from you. With both partners spending money out of the same account, you may not always know what the other partner is doing.

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