My fiancee earns $ 90,000 a year. I earn $ 150,000. Should we merge our finances after we get married?
My fiancee and I are getting married in October. She earns $ 90,000 per year between her main job and fitness instructor classes. I earn $ 150,000 per year (a combination of base salary and commission) from my lead role.
He has about $ 40,000 in student loans left, and we share an investment in a plot of land with a loan balance of $ 65,000 remaining. We both actively contribute to retirement and brokerage accounts. We believe that we do not have enough investable assets for financial professionals.
We’re both very independent people, so we like to make our own spending and investment decisions. Until now, we have regarded the money as “yours and mine” while happily sharing common expenses and investments like land. Should we merge our finances after we get married?
Dear soon to be married,
Joint accounts can reduce the hassle of tracking each other’s expenses and help you manage your household budget. When couples don’t merge their finances, it’s usually because a partner has a lot of debt and / or is having trouble controlling spending.
As we’ve seen in several recent letters to this column, including $ 1,500 trips to the mall and spending $ 11,000 on cosmetics, it’s not that uncommon. These are also not representative of the American population: men are just as likely to spend too much money and engage in financial shenanigans.
Keeping separate accounts is often a choice for very high-income couples who have a complex financial network and for those who marry second. There are often more factors to consider with the latter, including inheritance for stepchildren and multiple estates.
Most couples don’t actually separate their finances, according to this Policygenius poll: 20% said they keep their money management separate, while 30% don’t even know how much their partner earns. What does this tell us? Joint accounts and transparency do not always go hand in hand.
My recommendation for you and your fiancée is to prioritize your goals and gradually create joint savings and investment accounts to achieve those goals. As a first step, you will need to cooperate in determining the extent to which you decide to prioritize luxury over necessities and savings.
You will have other decisions to make, for example if the rent or mortgage contributions are based on a portion of your wages or should be shared 50-50 regardless of the disparity in your income. Merging your financial goals will naturally lead to you merging your finances.
It doesn’t have to happen overnight or be a zero-sum game.
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