In this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance, one of the editor’s picks is “10 Tips to Set Your Money Future Before You Get Married” at Free Money Finance, which references this article on MSNBC. I was happy to see that I am following both article’s number one tip: full financial disclosure. Going into our marriage, even though my finances are messy, they’re all out on the table. Whew! Likewise, the future husband has been talking more and more about things on his end. I feel like this is one aspect of our relationship that will work nicely as we move into the next phase. In fact, thanks to the blog, we may even run the risk of talking too much about money! The MSNBC article highlighted several key decisions we’ve been talking through as the wedding date approaches.
Joint or Separate Accounts
This one was the most controversial issue on FMF’s post, but I think it will be pretty easy for us. Since we’ve both been handling our own money for so long, a completely joint approach would be weird now. The future husband owns his own business, so that makes things more complicated. To start, we’ve decided to open a joint savings account for the emergency fund and major purchases. Everything else, we’ll keep separate for now. What’s important to us is save for major items together, but also keep a sense of control over our own incomes.
Reduce Your Liability
This too proved to be a fairly simple decision for us. We’re planning on drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement to protect his assets if things ever went badly for us. Of course, we can’t envision that ever happening, but we are both wise enough to know that, if it does, it’s better to have the negotiations completed when we’re friends than when we hate each other. I do think keeping all his professional interests in his name makes a lot of sense from a liability standpoint as well.
Consider Designating a Money Manager
Here’s the decision I’m most excited about. Clearly, handling finances in a healthy way has become a big issue for me. So, it will make sense for me to monitor the household budget. We’ll make the big decisions on retirement planning, paying down the mortgage, etc. together, but then I’ll implement them. Since we’re keeping our accounts separate, but he has full disclosure of mine via the blog, we’re also going to ensure that I know his. This summer, I’m going to slowly start taking over the bookkeeping for his business. It will be great for him to have someone he trusts keeping track of things, and I’ll feel that we’re working together as a team. We’ve set out some ground rules, like I won’t devote more than ten or fifteen hours a month to it, and he has ultimate authority on all business decisions (after all, he’s been running a successful practice for fifteen years now!). Right now, he only has one checking account, so we’d like to set up a separate account and “pay” him a monthly salary. That will help us plan a lot better and implement some of the financial goals we’ve been discussing.
Sure, things may be rosy now, but I really believe all our conversations about money are laying the groundwork for a healthy partnership. We’re on the same page about the big things: how blessed we really are in life, how money is useful for the experiences it can purchase not the status, and how we don’t want to work full-time for the rest of our careers, but do want to work part-time at the things we really love well into retirement. As long as we keep those things in mind, I hope that the day to day wrangling won’t seem so stressful. Wish us luck!