You and your partner talked a lot about money while planning your wedding -- from how much to spend on the reception to where you could afford to honeymoon.
But have you talked about how you're going to handle financial decisions after you tie the knot?
"Some people just don't put much thought into that financial merger, and they put no effort or communication into it," says JJ Montanaro, a certified financial planner ™ professional with USAA. "That's a big mistake."
And a common one.
According to an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants survey, the average couple argues about money three times a month. And a quarter of couples say money is the most common reason they fight.
The good news is some open dialogue and planning can help avoid conflict. Here's how:
- Communicate. Start talking about money before your wedding day so you can merge your money-management styles. Be ready to compromise and meet in the middle. Once married, use financial "date nights" to make sure you're on the same page about ongoing money decisions.
- Share your goals. Before you met, each of you had financial goals -- some as vague as retiring at the beach or others as specific as starting a business by a certain time. Write those down, compare lists and talk about how they fit into your joint financial priorities.
- Create a budget. A concrete plan will help you and your spouse stay on the right financial path. Budgets help you prioritize spending, adjust to changing expenses, cut waste and track your progress.
- Keep some personal money. It can be tough to go from being single to sharing every money decision with a spouse. If you opt to merge your finances completely, consider allowing each other a little discretionary money each month.
- Consider your credit scores. Ask about your partner's credit history and divulge your own before you exchange rings. If one of you has a blemished rating, you'll need to work together to get it fixed. Consider a credit monitoring service to get regular updates on your score.
- Plan for the long term. Now that you're working toward shared goals, see if your existing investments are complementary. "Look at all the different pieces of your retirement plans and how they're invested," Montanaro says. "Next, examine how those plans are going to look together, because you're going to retire together. Or at least that's the goal."