How to Combine Finances After Marriage (Without Having a Meltdown)

Time to get it together!
Pink calculate on a green folder with receipts
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Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
by
Jamie Cuccinelli
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
Jamie Cuccinelli
Senior Editor, Sex & Relationships
  • Jamie is a Senior Editor for The Knot where she oversees all sex and relationship editorial content.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she worked with an array of digital publications that include Brides, The Zoe Report, Bustle and MyDomaine.
  • Jamie graduated with a degree in English and Media, Culture & Communications from New York University.
Updated May 27, 2024

To have, to hold and to share a bank account with. Wondering how to combine finances after marriage? You're certainly not alone. According to The Knot Financial Survey, about 7 in 10 couples are discussing the topic of finances at least weekly, with 76% of those surveyed finding it very or somewhat easy to discuss money and finances with their partner. Amongst the hot topics being discussed? Combining finances after marriage.

The truth is, there is no "one-size-fits-all" method for handling your finances as a married couple. (Congrats, by the way!) For example, though the majority of married couples in our The Knot Financial Survey have at least one shared bank account with their partner, 63% also reported keeping a separate personal account. See and discuss what works for the both of you—it's okay to have some trial and error.

If combining finances after marriage is what you and your partner are particularly curious about, read on.

In this article:

Should Married Couples Combine Finances?

Whether or not you should combine your finances once you get hitched is really a question only you can answer. But remember that this isn't an all-or-nothing question: You can agree to combine and contribute to certain checking and savings accounts but not others, or to divide up certain assets and responsibilities.

There are some key benefits though to combining your finances as a married couple, as Chistina Greene, a Dallas-based Certified Public Accountant (CPA), tells us. "Combining finances provides a consolidated view of a couple's total income and expenses," she says. "That level of visibility will better allow them to create a joint budget and framework for their financial decisions."

Anyone looking to streamline or simplify their finances may also want to consider combining. "Having multiple accounts can make it difficult to keep track of balances and payment due dates," says Greene. "Keep things simple by streamlining the number of accounts that you keep open and sign up for autopay to avoid late fees."

Want to start small? Consider opening a new savings account together and then taking it from there. "Just having one shared savings account can help a couple save for their short-term and long-term goals together," Greene adds. "Whether it's buying a home or going on a dream trip, each partner can contribute towards a shared goal."

How to Combine Finances After Marriage

Let's talk money, honey! If you're interested in combining finances after marriage, we simplified the steps below to get you started. "When in doubt, I always recommend speaking with a financial advisor," says Greene. "It can really be an eye-opening learning experience."

1. Realize That Talk Isn't Cheap

Everything begins and ends with healthy communication and honesty. In fact, 43% of survey respondents said they'd consider it a relationship deal breaker if their partner was being secretive about finances. Start by identifying and discussing any past financial experiences you've had. Money can be an emotional thing, so be empathic towards each other's experiences.

After you get through the feelings, get to the facts. You and your partner will likely want to swap the following info:

  • Savings you may have
  • Any assets you own (such as homes and vehicles)
  • Current debts (such as student loan payments or credit card debt)
  • Your credit score

    2. Set Specific Goals

    Discuss each of your hopes and goals for the future. Do you wish to own a home together? Travel internationally once a year? Let your dreams run wild—this part should be fun!

    From there, you can begin to set financial goals that'll help you reach your common aspirations. Get specific here: For example, if you want to become homeowners, look up the average home costs in your area. Setting a goal of having a certain percentage of that down payment saved within a year is a great place to set.

    3. Begin Building a Budget

    "Evaluate exactly where your money goes," encourages Greene. Figure out your essential expenses, what's being contributed to savings and paying off debts, and then what else each of you has been spending your paychecks on. Identify areas where money can be saved and discuss how and where you'd like to allocate your joint funds. "Aligning on a budget together will help set the ground rules for spending and communication about finances," says Greene.

    4. Open Your Joint Accounts

    Get started by opening at least one joint account together—both a checking and savings account would be a ideal. Once established, your joint checking account can be used to pay bills and handle your various expenses. A joint savings account can be used to help you reach your previously set financial goals.

    Establish how much you'll both contribute regularly to each account, such as a certain percentage of each paycheck or your annual income. Remember: You don't have to split everything 50/50—signifcant differences in income would make this hard to impossible. Discuss what makes sense and feels fair.

    You may also want to consider opening a credit card with your spouse or adding each other to one of open credit accounts. Be sure to note though that this is more dependent on the health of your individual credit scores and spending habits. (To explore your credit scores, your credit card company or banking institution usually provides the service, and you can also use sites like Experian and Credit Karma.)

    How to Manage Your Finances After Marriage

    In need of a money management makeover? Coming off of a huge life event—like tying the knot—is a great opportunity to reexamine how you handle your money. Fresh starts and new chapters all around!

    When it comes to managing fiances together, knowlege and consistency are your greatest assests. The longer you wait to get things in order, the more overwhelming the process may seem. So make it a habit to check in with your finances every day for a quick five minutes. (You can each commit to a quick glance at your account balance, right?) You can set aside additional time once a week to go over any changes you noticed or possible adjustments with your partner. Pair your weekly financial chat with a glass of vino or your favorite show to watch together to make it something you both look forward to.

    You're also encouraged to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal. Budgeting apps are the most popular way couples are keeping themselves informed about their day-to-day finances. (40% of respondents of The Knot Financial Survey use 'em!) Looking to follow their lead? We've rounded up the best budget apps for couples right here. No tips, please.

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