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    Money and Marriage: Common Pitfalls to Avoid

    For many people, the day they get married is one of the happiest days of their lives. The dress, the reception, being surrounded by family and friends, and vowing to spend the rest of your life with someone you love—it's a happy day, indeed! However, once the wedding bells stop ringing and the honeymoon ends, sometimes one of the first hiccups in a new marriage can be combining finances. While some newlyweds may choose to combine their accounts and financial obligations, others will choose to keep their finances separate. There are no hard and fast rules for combining finances after marriage, and every couple has to find what works best for them. Read below for some tips on making the transition as smooth as possible.

    1. Communication

    According to an Insider survey, financial problems are the cause for divorce 36.1% of the time. While conflicting “money styles” certainly contribute to this, communication—or lack thereof—is usually at the root of most issues. Consistent and honest communication is particularly important when dealing with finances. Discussions about finances should occur during the engagement period, but if you skipped that part of the courtship, have no fear—it’s not too late. You and your new spouse should discuss how you want to handle your finances—early and often. Your financial status and health is not a one-time conversation. Consider scheduling a monthly or quarterly "state of the union" talk to review your finances. If you and your new spouse are open and honest with each other, you'll improve your chances of a smooth transition when combining your finances.

    2. Trust

    It's often said that trust is the foundation of a good marriage—or any relationship, for that matter. When it comes to managing finances with your spouse, trust is an essential ingredient. Whether one or both of you takes the lead in setting your budget, managing the monthly expenses, and saving for small and large goals, you will have to learn to trust each other in making decisions that are in the best interest of your new family. If you are accustomed to being financially independent and only accountable for yourself, this can often be easier said than done.

    3. Setting Common Goals

    There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like to save money and those who enjoy spending it—and they usually marry each other! When it comes to managing money, in most cases, no two people in a marriage are exactly alike. One person may be a saver, while the other is more of a spender. One person may prefer to buy everything new, while the other may be okay with purchasing used items. Regardless of how you and your spouse differ when it comes to your "financial personality," finding a way to set common goals is imperative to surviving the merging of your finances. You don't necessarily have to agree on everything, but having a common set of values and goals will mitigate many potential problems. Furthermore, when you are both working toward the same goals, you are more likely to achieve them.

    4. Find What Works for You

    As we've stated earlier, when it comes to how they handle finances, every couple is different. Some people prefer to have only joint accounts and have their spouse manage the budget and monthly bills, while others prefer to keep their own separate accounts for discretionary spending and only have a joint account for joint expenses. There is no right or wrong way to manage your finances post marriage. The most important thing is to find what makes you and your spouse comfortable and in control of your financial future.

    5. Ask for Help

    If you and your new spouse reach a stalemate, or you simply feel like you need guidance while you embark on this new journey, don't hesitate to seek help from a professional. Navigating the peaks and valleys of successful money management can be overwhelming in and of itself, so adding in the element of a new marriage can add to the stress level. Asking for guidance from a trained wealth management professional can alleviate some of the uncertainty you and your new spouse may be feeling. A professional can help you and your new spouse set a budget, set savings goals, and devise a plan to help you tackle debt.

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    Victoria Penn

    Victoria Penn is the AVP of Marketing for SWBC. She manages a team of marketers that develop traditional and digital marketing strategies. She also leads the Content Marketing Strategy for SWBC.

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