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5 Things Newlyweds Should Know About Combining Their Finances
You’ve said ‘I do’, celebrated with your friends and family, and now you’re ready to take that first step into marriage. But what does that look like from a practical perspective? Going from two individuals to a single unit means making a number of adjustments, including how you bank, save, and file your taxes. With that in mind, we’ve created a guide for combining your finances as newlyweds. Whether you’re newly married, common-law partners, or in a long-term relationship, these tips and tricks will support you in building your lives together.
1. Reevaluate Your Budget
Living on your own, you might have had a budget for your monthly expenses, taking into account your personal spending habits and financial goals. With someone else in the picture, it’s time to reassess your budget. Using the same principles, you can build a newlywed budget that incorporates your joint income and expenses, highlighting how much you might be able to save on a monthly basis and what costs you can cut down. Start this process with a conversation. Remember, you’re likely both coming to the table with different expectations around budgeting and saving, so leave space for each other’s unique perspectives. Discuss your financial goals openly and often and set up a collaborative plan.
2. Combine Your Finances in Joint Accounts
Once you’ve built your newlywed budget, consolidating your financials into one place can help keep things organized. Consider using a joint checking account for all of your salary payments, that way you can clearly see your monthly income. Open up joint savings accounts for your financial goals as a couple (e.g. buying a house or taking an extended vacation). Take out a credit card together that you can only use for specific household payments like groceries. Even if you continue to use separate accounts to shop or make payments, giving each other access will ensure that you both have visibility into the state of your collective finances.
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3. Reconsider How You File Your Taxes
Come tax season, newly married couples will have to decide whether they want to continue to file individually or jointly. The primary factor to keep in mind is income. For spouses that have significantly different salaries, filing together could help put the higher earner into a lower tax bracket—lowering the couple’s overall taxes. Alternatively, partners that have similar income might risk having their combined income push them into a higher bracket. While there are regulations emerging to help prevent this, it might still make sense to file individually. Don’t forget to explore what tax credits and retirement funds can help you save more money as a couple.
4. Make Sure You’re Covered
One of the perks of being married is that your employer’s health insurance plan might allow you to add your spouse as a dependent—this will provide an added layer of protection to your financial safety net. That said, of the companies that do allow for spousal enrollment, 33% will charge you a fee for it. In cases like that, unless your partner is a freelancer or unemployed, it might be beneficial to keep individual insurance policies that offer robust coverage for less.
5. Save For What’s to Come
Now that you’re married, you’re starting off your lives together, and there are so many things for you to look forward to—and save for. Whether you’re planning for kids, a home, pets, or a lifetime of traveling together, you’ll need to actively save for those milestones. Work these plans into your budget, set up dedicated savings accounts, and hold each other accountable to cut back on expenses that might get in the way of your goals.
Structuring your finances as a couple doesn’t have to be hard. By exploring these various aspects of your financial health early on, you’re bound to set yourself up for success as you navigate your life together.