Ok, first, let’s get something straight: This whole blog is NOT going to be alphabet themed. It just so happens that the next thing I want to talk to you about begins with the letter “C”, so don’t get used to it! 🙂
With that out of the way, let’s continue working on your “How”. Have you started your budget yet? If not, get to work! As we discussed yesterday, it’s easily the most important thing to your financial success.Today, I’m specifically talking to those of you who are married. Not married? Go work on your budget! Actually, scratch that. You should read this whether you’re married or not, because odds are you WILL be married someday. Not to mention, if you have friends who are married , you can help answer questions they might have, or forward today’s post to them. There is also something below, in the next paragraph, that every single person needs to know.
A Word Of Caution
So, let’s get to it. You’ll notice that I used the word “Married” a lot in reference to today’s topic. There is one thing I want to make clear: If you are not married to someone, you should NOT have any joint accounts with them. Why is that? Well, if you read my biography, you’ll notice that I was in banking for 10 years before I started my career as a financial advisor. During an early part of my banking career, I saw a lot of interesting and, frankly, frustrating things. At that time, I worked directly with clients as a teller and then as a customer service representative.
One of the most frustrating occurrences that I came across, on a semi-regular basis, was when people who weren’t married would add their significant other onto their checking or savings account. I would politely explain to them that their significant other would legally be an equal owner of whatever funds were in the account as of their signatures on the documents, and if something happened to those funds, my company could not be held responsible. They would say things like “I’m not worried, I trust him/her with my money”, or “It’s ok, she/he is responsible. They’d never do anything like that”, or “I love him/her, and trust them with my money”. At that point, I would move on with the process and finish the documents. Sometimes things would be fine, but others I would get frantic phone calls from the client, berating me for letting them do it, because their “Love” stole all of their money and left them.Can this happen to you after you’re married? Sure, but it’s less likely if you’ve known the person for more than a few months. In fact it’s much less likely to happen if you are with that person for a long time, and have in-depth discussions with them about money handling before you marry them. According to Marriage.com, of the top 10 most common reasons for divorce, money issues are #2, behind only infidelity. Also, Investopedia.com has a good list of the top 6 problems married couples have with money. Want to know what’s at the top of the list? If you guessed separate accounts, you’d be correct.
Actually, the more important subjects that you can have discussions about before you marry someone, the better (That includes child rearing, money, sex, and everything else that a married couple shares). That’s just my two cents which, by the way, you’re taking by reading this blog, anyway. 🙂
The Nitty Gritty Good Stuff
Ok, with that out of the way, lets talk about the good that can come of combining accounts (After you’re married 😉 ).
This really won’t take long. It’s very simple: Combining finances is a must for any marriage, my opinion. If you read the Investopedia.com article above, you already know why. For those of you who are feeling a bit too lazy to read that article, I’ll quote it here:
Sometimes, when each spouse works and they can’t agree on financial issues, they decide to split the bills down the middle or allocate them out in some other fair and equitable manner. Once the bills are covered, each spouse can spend what they have left as they see fit. It sounds like a reasonable plan, but the process often builds resentment over the individual purchases made. It also divides the spending power, eliminating much of the financial value of marriage.
In other words, the more you know about each others’ finances, the stronger your marriage will be. How do I know this? I’m married to a gal who I have no secrets from, minus the occasional gift, and our marriage has become stronger and stronger since we combined our finances (She was still working at the time, before she had our daughter, and became a stay-at-home Mom). When we married, we waited about a year to do it. In retrospect, that was foolish. After we combined all of our accounts and really talked turkey about our philosophies in regard to money and how we wanted to use it to make a better life for our family, it brought us much, much closer together. Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t have very similar philosophies about money to begin with. We already knew that because we had all of the discussions that I mentioned in the last paragraph of the previous section.
Do we have things we can work on in our marriage? Absolutely. However, taking the #2 killer of marriages out of the equation gives us a much better chance at staying together, happily, than couples who don’t slay that dragon. Take it from the experts on this one: Combine your finances and agree on how you are going to spend your money (You know, with that budget thing).
Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about something that every person who owns a home, or has kids needs to invest in before they start eradicating their debt. Be sure to check in to find out what it is!
Do you have a story about how combined finances have helped or hurt a relationship you’ve been in, or know of? Comment below!
Are you excited about starting your journey to financial independence? Share this post with the people you care about!