Money can be a major stressor in marriage. One of the first money discussions you’ll have is the possibility of a joint bank account. In the eyes of the law, once you are married your assets belong to both of you. Many couples choose to join their bank accounts, with the money accessible to both. If you and your spouse decide to go this route, here is a breakdown of how to merge your bank accounts and begin the road to healthy monetary discussions.
Get a Full Financial History
Both spouses should begin their monetary journey by getting a full financial history done. This includes your annual credit reports, credit scores, debt and loan information, current expenses, and current income. Having all of this information available from the start will make decisions clearer and any discussions more focused. It will all be relevant in the next steps you’ll take to merge your bank accounts.
Talk About Money
Before you do anything, it’s important to start talking about money. It may be uncomfortable at first, but starting the talks early on can diffuse tension and trouble later. Go into the discussion without shame or judgment. It’s even a good idea to begin any discussions with prayer. Here are some topics to discuss:
- How does your partner feel about money?
- How does your partner feel about managing money?
- What are some financial successes your partner has had? Mistakes or failures?
- What financial goals have you had the past? What financial goals do you have for the future?
It’s also important to discuss your financial lifestyle. Maybe one partner loves to eat out, while the other prefers to eat in. Maybe one is more prone to impulse buys and the other likes to save up for bigger purchases. Understanding how you want to live financially is essential to being on the same page.
Go Through Your Bank Accounts
After you’ve gathered a financial history and started talking about money, you’re ready to work on merging your bank accounts. The first step is to go through what bank accounts you each have open. Determine which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to close. Go through the benefits of your bank and your accounts.
Visit Your Bank
Once you have a plan on which accounts you want to merge and which ones you want to close, visit your respective banks. They’ll walk you through the entire process and begin the merging process. Your banker may also have suggestions on new accounts that may be better designed for a joint account. Often, it is simply signing a new person onto one account and closing the other one.
Make sure to make a financial plan for the duration of the process! You don’t want to be left in a lurch with closed accounts or non-working cards.
If you’ve merged your bank accounts, what piece of advice would you have for newlyweds? Let us know in the comments.