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We’re Getting Married (In a Week!) How Will Our Finances Change?

I’m getting married one week from today! I can hardly believe how quickly the day has crept up on us, but considering my fiancée and I have dated for the majority of the ten years since we met in high school, some might say “it’s about time”. Although at the moment we are consumed by planning the final details of our big day and ensuing honeymoon, we do take a moment here and there to talk about how this big step will change our lives after all the celebrations have passed. Of course, finances are no exception. But guess what? We don’t expect our finances to change much, if at all, after marriage. How so?

Joint Expenses

As with many modern couples, my fiancée and I will remain fairly financially independent with the exception of joint expenses. We already live together and do this using a joint credit card. (We put all groceries, meals out, and shared bills on the card and each pay our half—in full—every month). We also split our housing expenses down the middle.

After marriage, we are also talking about opening a joint savings account to begin saving for future vacations, home improvements, and other big purchases. We will keep separate spending accounts and, most likely, separate emergency funds.

Debt

In a perfect world, both of us would be entering marriage debt-free. We’re not quite there yet.

I’ve got a year or two left on my debt repayment strategy from my ignorant early twenties spending binge. She, having just graduated law school, has some student loans (though fortunately a very small amount compared to most law grads). As of right now, our debts will also be our own. (Which is fair. These were our debts before marriage, not something we accumulated together after marriage).

Going forward, I hope to convince my wife-to-be to live without debt with the exception of our home. Given my past experience with debt, that’s how I want to try to live going forward. I recognize that she doesn’t completely feel the same. She managed her debt in the past a lot better that I did. At the same time, she never got the “come to Jesus” experience with debt that I did. But we both recognize that marriage will involve compromises, and that the key to avoiding any bad blood is to talk about our financial decisions and be completely transparent. No secrets. I’m confident that being strong financial partners helps make marriages work, and can even save your marriage when things get shaky, as they inevitably do.

Do you agree? Are you married or getting married soon? How did you change your finances or do you expect to change them after marriage?

PS: Since I’ll be away on our honeymoon for a week, I am still looking for one or two guest posts. I’ll take them until Friday, August 21st. Interested? Read my guest author guidelines and let me know!

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Congrats my man! Very, very exciting time in your lives :)

  2. My husband and I have been happily married for almost 9 years (anniversary is on August 26th). We’ve always held all of our financial accounts jointly. We put all of our money together and view it as family money. We have a budget that we stick to in order to pay off debt and save. Although I can understand the logic of splitting expenses down the middle, I don’t necessarily agree with it. As you continue your journey of marriage, most likely your life circumstances will change. What happens when your wife gets pregnant and has children (assuming you both eventually decide to expand your family)? Most women, given the opportunity, try to stay home with the children or decrease their work time. Will you adjust the 50/50 rules then? Flexibility is a big part of a successful marriage (along with 2 good forgivers). I do agree with you that communication is also a Must in a marriage and I guess as long as finances are discussed openly and honestly, that’s the most important thing.

  3. Well, it works for some people, so good luck. We had combined our money even before the wedding, so it was normal for us to continue with a combined approach.

    I do remember, quite a few years ago, getting into a discussion with several other couples about (1) joint finances (2) wearing wedding rings and (3) sharing a last name. We had (1), but not (2) or (3). The other couples all had (2), most had (3), but none had (1). They mostly agreed that our choices showed less commitment to the marriage than theirs.

    We are still happily married many years later (23 years this Dec), and all of these other couples have divorced.

  4. Adrianne has a good point. Every couple has to do what’s right for them, but financial circumstances between spouses often change drastically. My salary increased much quicker than my wife’s after grad school (where we met) and it just felt wrong not to help her pay down her student loans when I was able to. Again, when she was off having our 3 kids, it seemed unfair that I should be able to keep living the high life while she was financially ‘out of commission’.

    We have always viewed our household as a sort of ‘small business’ where we both bring in revenue (however big or small), both try to keep down costs, invest our capital wisely, and hope for a profit at the end of the year. Like any good team, when one person wins, the other does too.

  5. I’m getting married in 3.5 weeks. I guess we’ll have to wait to see exactly what changes financially. For now, I think we are planning on combining finances. I’ll probably write about it on my blog as we go along! and congrats!

  6. I fundamentaly disagree with the sharing everything approach, as one of the challenges in a marriage is to also maintain an individual identity while being part of a couple. I personally cannot imagine not having personal accounts in addition to joint ones ( this is also the advice of my father, who is a very sucessful financial planner, in his words, “sharing everything causes unnecessary arguements and heartache. Having some seperate accounts makes life so much simpler.”
    Also the assumption that women want to downscale their careers when they have children is frankly outdated, at least here in California where 2 career couples are very common, as are stay at home dads. I would encourage you and your fiancee to do some variant of the his, hers, ours, financial split, based on your needs rather than on the idea of the 1 breadwinner/1 homemaker dynamic, which no longer applies for many couples.

  7. I don’t really understand the roommate-style splitting of expenses, unless it’s a blended family. It’s also hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that some money/debt is his or hers.

    This is one of my favorite blogging topics because people do things so differently. For us, I can’t imagine anything but joint everything, including debt.

  8. My fiancee and I are doing the exact same things. I bought a house in December and she moved in right away. We opened a joint checking account that we use to pay all of the household bills and for things we purchase together. She pays all of her existing bills with her own pay and I pay all of my existing bills with mine. Some people say “Well, you live together so your money is already combined whether you acknowledge it or not” but I don’t agree. I feel that she shouldn’t have to contribute to my student loans or to my car payment, etc. When we get married we will combine things such as auto insurance and we will get a joint credit card, but only after we’re married.

  9. When I get married am I responable for my husbands debit he had before we got married? I have good credit now and he has bad credit is that going to make my credit score go down?