So here we are. Married! While money was hardly ever our primary focus (especially with all of the excitement!), it’s incredible how big of a role it can play. It even manages to peak its head into situations without us expecting it to.  

Thankfully, we have experience. We’ve been putting our money together to pay for bills over the last few years and even opened a savings account together! But now it’s time to get real. Our lives are merging, so should our money – at least somewhat. And, take it from our experience, there are a few things you should know to make this process easier.

Have “The Talk”.  The first conversation about money is one of the toughest conversations to have – even as a married couple. If you haven’t discussed money and your personal finances with your significant other yet, this would be the time to do it. Affinity Plus can help you get started by providing a free credit report review.

Make a plan. When you’ve decided to share expenses, you’ll likely benefit financially from going through a budget and devising a plan for how bills will be paid. Not only does this cause less confusion, it will help you hold each other accountable and could lead to more flexibility in your own spending or, better yet, a larger balance in your savings account. Through Affinity Plus online banking, MoneyDesktop, a free account aggregator, it’s a one-shot view of everything we have and SavvyMoney will keep you on target with your budget.

Start early. As the saying goes, “the sooner, the better.”  Even though you may be expecting some changes in name or address, you can still merge accounts and put money together. In fact, when it comes time to make these changes on accounts, you’ll already have the account-opening part of the process out of the way. It doesn’t have to be difficult, either. 

Decide on accounts. Everyone has different values and needs when it comes to how they prefer to manage their finances. Figure out what works best for both of you. In the end, having at least one joint checking account will generally make things easier as you can have one account devoted strictly to paying mutual bills.  

It’s okay to keep some things separate. Having your own checking accounts can be helpful, especially for the day-to-day expenses. You’ll likely have some separate bills, savings and debt that make more sense to keep where they are instead of merging. And, every once in a while, you may want to surprise your special someone with something special, which is done much easier with a solo side account!

Add each other as beneficiaries. No matter what you decide to do with joining your money, don’t forget this step. Should anything happen to you, the last thing you want is to create more stress in your spouse’s life. Simply adding your spouse as a beneficiary on your accounts will make things much easier and give you peace of mind.

As we look back on our experience, we believe one of the greatest lessons we learned was marriage merges money in the same way it merges lives. No matter what your financial situation looks like—good, bad, or even ugly, take a moment to talk about it, and let Affinity Plus be part of the conversation. While we all know money can’t buy happiness, we’ve learned that being open and honest about money with your significant other can!