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::June Edition::

Welcome to the June edition of Financial Friday, Oklahoma Money Matters' online personal finance question and answer forum. This month, we're answering a question about combining finances with a partner.

I just got married and my spouse and I are trying to merge our finances. What's the best way to get started?

All relationships look different, whether it’s a marriage, cohabitation, or a long-distance partnership. There's no universal blueprint for navigating life with a partner; each couple charts their own course.

Although there's no precise roadmap for merging finances, several principles can ease the process. Whether you're living together, considering marriage, or you’ve just tied the knot, these principles will help you combine your finances more easily.

  1. Look Internally First
    Before diving into joint finances, ensure both partners clearly understand their financial situations. Each should have a spending plan that outlines expenses, assets, debts, and other relevant financial details.
  2. Establish Ground Rules Together
    Money is one of the top reasons couples split up, so transparency and honesty are crucial. Discuss openly what level of financial integration you both want. Do you prefer to completely merge accounts, divide financial responsibilities, and keep separate accounts? There's no one-size-fits-all approach; the key is alignment and commitment to agreed-upon rules.
  3. Hold the Judgment
    Accept that each partner may bring financial baggage, such as debt, into the relationship. Create a non-judgmental environment where both parties feel safe discussing financial matters. Focus on solutions and moving forward together rather than dwelling on past decisions. 
  4. Slow Progress is Still Progress
    Combining finances is a process, not an event. Break down discussions into manageable steps, addressing one aspect at a time, like existing debts or future financial goals. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed and you’ll be able to thoroughly consider each issue before making a decision.
  5. Always Protect Yourself
    Only combine finances when both partners feel ready. It's essential to feel supported and valued in the relationship. If you’re not ready to combine your finances, that means there’s something else going on that needs to be addressed. Wait to combine finances until you're both on board.
  6. Joint Budget Creation
    Once ready, create a spending plan reflecting your shared financial goals and values. Remember to consider factors like income disparity and equitable distribution of expenses to ensure a fair and equitable division of responsibility.
  7. Discuss Long-Term Goals
    As committed partners, it's vital to align on long-term financial aspirations, such as homeownership, travel plans, education funds, and retirement savings. Sharing these goals fosters unity and mutual accountability.
  8. Regularly Communicate and Review
    Financial planning is an ongoing process. Schedule regular check-ins to review the budget, reassess goals, and address any changes in circumstances. Open communication fosters trust and prevents misunderstandings.

Ultimately, a couple's ability to manage finances together reflects the strength of their relationship. Transparency, teamwork, and mutual respect are foundational to romantic and financial harmony. Couples can navigate the complexities of merging finances by prioritizing these principles while strengthening their bond.

As always, if you have money-saving tips you’d like to share, send us an email at OklahomaMoneyMatters@ocap.org or submit a personal finance question for a future edition of Financial Friday.

Thanks for participating in Financial Friday. It's never too late to take control of your financial future!

The OKMM Team

Financial Friday is a service of Oklahoma Money Matters, the financial literacy initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

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