Opinion: Should you combine bank accounts when you get married?

Opinion: Should you combine bank accounts when you get married?
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Author note: Hunter Kern is a sales director by day whose money tips have been featured on Business Insider, LifeHacker, AOL and Mint.

Should you combine bank accounts when you get married? Of course you should.

As a 34-year-old married dude with two kids (and another on the way), I just can’t relate to the 1 in 3 millennials who keep their money separate from their spouse or the 1 in 5 millennials who don’t even know how much their spouse makes.

And the trend of not combining finances with your spouse isn’t going to slow down. Here’s why:

  • Millennials are getting married later in life. In the 1980s, the median ages to get married was 25 for men and 22 for women, whereas today it’s 29 for men and 27 for women.
  • Student loans continue to be a burden. I get it. Inheriting $100,000 of debt is a tough pill to swallow.
  • Dual-income households are more common, and 49 percent of working women are the breadwinners in their family.

Married couples: how do you manage your money?

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Although more and more millennial marriages will choose not to combine accounts, it’s the wrong decision. “A marriage without combined finances is just a limited partnership,” says author Dave Ramsey. He’s right.

When you get married, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the other person’s life, body, personality or finances you want to accept. Both parties have to go all in “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.”

That means that her student loans become your student loans.

His paycheck becomes your income.

There is no more “mine” or “yours.” It’s all “ours.”

We’ve all heard the dreaded statistic that roughly 40 to 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. It’s commonly accepted that “money” is one of the primary sources of tension in relationships, so it’s crucial for you and your partner to be on the same page. Combining accounts is the first step.

Once you know where you stand and each party knows what’s coming in and what’s going out, it’s important to force tough conversations and talk about where you want to go. You should agree on a path to get there together. Even if your partner makes less income or stays at home with the children, it’s important to recognize that everybody makes important contributions to the family. It’s easy to keep score, but don’t do it.

And don’t sweat the small stuff. Make sure your money is going toward things that make you both happy, and stop nagging each other over small irrelevant expenses (coffee, nails, golf). Get the big stuff right.

Although it can cause difficult conversations early in a relationship, combining finances with your partner allows you to approach money as a team — which leads to better outcomes for you, your marriage and your family.

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