One in five people regret combining finances with their spouse or partner, according to a recent survey.1 While older generations may have viewed combining finances as a natural part of tying the knot, younger generations are often not so sure. Over a quarter of Generation Xers (age 39 to 54) and 22% of millennials wish they hadn’t combined finances with their significant other. Meanwhile, just 12% of baby boomers (ages 55 to 73) had regrets about financial comingling. Another survey found that while 37% of married millennials and 36% of Gen Xers kept their finances separate from their partner's, only a quarter (27%) of baby boomers did so.2
Marital money matters are often far more complex among younger generations. Marrying later, younger generations often enter matrimony with more substantial assets earned separately. Student loans, less predictable career paths, and more volatile income can make combining finances tricky. Different attitudes and money habits can also be serious complications. Nearly four in 10 people are concerned that their partner or spouse spends too much, and women are nearly twice as likely to be unsatisfied with the way finances are managed in their relationship.1
Whether it is better for a couple to combine finances depends on multiple factors. There are certain advantages to merging money: it can simplify managing financial responsibilities, such as paying the mortgage or other common expenses, it can reinforce financial goals and encourage open communication, and, in cases of emergency or if a spouse is incapacitated or passes away, it makes it easier to access money. However, combining money can cause complications if a couple is not fully aligned on spending priorities, and having combined finances makes it harder if a couple separates.
If a couple combines finances, experts recommend a few strategies:
Keep both joint and individual accounts. A joint account is great for joint expenses and saving, but maintaining individual accounts enables each spouse or partner to spend out of a designated pool of money for their own personal purchases and priorities.
Establish financial roles. A complete financial strategy includes many tasks, including managing the household budget, long-term planning, investments, insurance, and taxes. Many couples default to financial roles without talking about it, but everyone has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money. Assigning the best roles that play to the strengths of each spouse/partner can help optimize your financial strategy.
Maintain open communication. When combining money, have a thorough conversation about financial goals and expectations. This includes being open about money hopes, worries, and habits, both good and bad. Regular check-ins are also necessary to ensure your expectations remain aligned and you are on track for your financial goals. Don’t keep secrets, especially regarding spending and debt. This will enable you to work together as a team to overcome obstacles.
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1. MagnifyMoney, 2019
2. Morning Consult/Business Insider, 2019
This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.