How Newlyweds Can Find Their Financial Happy Ever After

Opposites attract. It's a theory that rings true in marriage and finances. Spenders frequently end up with savers. And the person who worries about money often marries someone who avoids the issue.

Not surprisingly, money is a common cause of conflict. But it doesn't have to be. Whether you're about to wed or recently married, take these steps to help prevent financial disputes:

Have the money talk. Make time for a frank discussion about your income, debts, and financial goals so there are no surprises or disappointments later. And pledge to keep the financial dialogue going.

Swap credit reports. Though you're a couple, each of you has your own credit report. It lists your lines of credit or loans and their balances, as well as whether you're behind on payments. It's a good idea to exchange reports before you tie the knot or early in your marriage so each of you know where you stand — and what you may need to work on to reach your financial goals.

Make a plan to pay off debt. Debt isn't necessarily bad, say, if it's student loans that helped a partner earn a degree and land a good job. But if a partner is deep in high-interest credit card debt, that's a problem. Together you'll need to devise a plan to eliminate bad debt so you can then focus on your long-term goals.

Decide to merge, or not to merge, accounts. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Merging bank accounts may make finances simpler and may help you feel like you're more a part of a team.

Merged accounts could also lead to arguments if one of you is a poor money manager. For instance, there's nothing to prevent a spender from withdrawing the entire balance of a joint account. And a saver would be liable for any unpaid debt the spender racks up on a joint credit card. In this case, consider holding off combining accounts until you're both good money managers. Or, use a combination of merged and separate accounts. The merged account can be one that you both contribute to and draw from to cover household expenses.

Maintain a separate credit card. Both of you should own at least one credit card under your own names. With your own accounts, you'll each build a credit record based on individual payment history and other factors. And if you should ever part ways, you won't have to worry about re-establishing your own credit.

Please note: The contents of this publication provided by ICMA-RC is general information regarding your retirement benefits. It is not intended to provide you with or substitute for specific legal, tax, or investment advice. You may want to consult with your legal, tax, or investment adviser to review your own personal situation. Some of the products, services, or funds detailed in this publication may not be available in your plan. This document contains information obtained from outside sources and it references external websites. While we believe this information to be reliable, we cannot guarantee its complete accuracy. In addition, rules and laws can change frequently.

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