How to Combine Finances as Newlyweds (The Right Way)

April 7, 2023

How should you approach combining finances after getting married? In this highlight, Brian and Bo discuss everything you need to know about combining finances and cover the most common mistakes people make.

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Daniel has a question. He says, “I am getting married in June. Congrats, by the way. Congrats! And we are planning on combining finances. What are the most frequent mistakes made or things missed? We are 25 and 24. It’s our first marriage, and we don’t have any kids, so this is a fresh start.

Love it all right. Daniel says. “Alright, so the big question is, what are some of the common mistakes that we see when people combine finances? One, this is a personal bias of mine. I love seeing the finances come together. I think it’s a lot easier when a couple, especially a young couple starting out, gets married. You put it all together, it’s great, and there are a lot of efficiencies that can happen. I’ll speak to the one biggest mistake that I see often happen because once you put your finances together, once you have the same credit card account, once you have the same checking account, the same savings account, you start to see each other’s spending behavior.

Well, you better make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to goals because in your mind, let me not say in your mind, in my mind, when I got married, and my wife and I decided to join our accounts together, I knew how much her income was. So, I thought, ‘Holy cow! My income just went up this much. That means our savings is going to be incredible! We’re going to start saving tons of this. I mean, I’ve been living off of what I make, and now we were still dating and so now with her money, we’ll just save all that.’ I’ve got to believe on her side she knew what I was making and she was thinking, ‘Oh boy, I’m going to be able to go shopping. I’m going to be able to do more things. We’ve got more discretionary income.’ We were not highly aligned on our goals. One of the things I think can be incredibly valuable for folks who are just now starting is to be very open and apparent about, ‘Okay, what are our savings goals? What are the things we want to accomplish? Why do we want to accomplish those things? And what are the things that we’re okay spending money on?’

You know, my wife, the shampoo and the hair and the beauty stuff, I didn’t get. I bought like dollar bottles of suave. It was not something that was on my radar, but it mattered to her, right? Having an understanding about where each of you are, like I don’t say pain points, but the things that you love to spend money on, being on the same page about that because even though she might spend on something I think is frivolous may not be frivolous to her, and she probably would look at me the exact same way. I think that in the beginning of a relationship, you need to have some of the most unreal manic conversations that, down the road, if you do this right, will turn into the most romantic conversations. So, you’ve got to put in the hard work, and I love Daniel that you’re asking this question because the outline or the agenda for this, where this conversation starts, is you really have three components. You have the baggage discussion, meaning what did each of you bring into this relationship financially because it’s not uncommon for people to have student loan debt.

It’s not uncommon for people to have consumer debt. You know, where somebody ran up a bunch of credit card debts, store credit cards, and so forth. And then you’ve got the current discussion that’s where, what is the threshold that you can spend without talking to your significant other about it? Do you combine your finances with one checking account versus having separate checking accounts? That’s all in the current. And then you need to have on that agenda the future. Where are we? What are we? What’s the purpose? What are we actually doing here? What are we trying to build? What’s the vision? So that we can stay on point and focus with how we’re living our life today because that’s going to heavily influence how you currently live. Those are the three big things. And if you can kind of bring those together and know all of your variables, man communication, what do we see when people have broken marriages? Is you hear communication fell apart. They didn’t have an understanding. They started keeping secrets from each other. They started doing things in a way that had hit it from the spouse. You can cut all that off at the pass at the beginning.

This is why when I know my wife and I were engaged, we went to pre-marital training with our pastor. We went and actually had some lessons and messages because we were like, hey, I want to talk to somebody who’s actually done hundreds if not thousands of these to tell me what are the things people fall apart on. And then I also want to give you the knowledge I have just from being married and also going through counseling at some point in my soon to be 25 years of marriage. The thing that my pastor shared with us in the pre-marital training was, make sure you’re on the same page with the communication. I just gave you those three points to put on your agenda, the baggage that came into the marriage, the current that Bo just talked about, and the future. Where we’re going, here’s the next thing that’s going to serve you so well. We all are selfish. I think it’s a human nature condition. We all think we are the hero of the story, and then we have all these forces working against us. And it’s not uncommon when bad stuff is going on, you’ll look at your significant other and be like, man, I do so much, they do so little. If they would just meet me in a better place, I had a counselor tell me, control that inner voice if you will. Turn that inner voice that is a natural pessimist and tell you how you are the best thing in the world, but you’re this person over here is working against you or trying to hurt you or not doing everything because they’re selfish. I want you to flip the script and say, wait a minute, inner voice. I’m an optimist. I don’t want a pessimistic inner voice. How can I take out that negativity and flip the script? And I do this all the time. I essentially put myself in the other person’s shoes and I was Brian. You’re creating a false narrative, and I would tell you, Daniel, if you can do that, if both of you can have that understanding of controlling that inner voice to turn that pessimist into an optimist, you can find you communicate better, you get along better, the passion and the relationship is going to be better.

That leads me to that last point where I said these most unromantic meetings in the beginning can turn into the most romantic meetings in the future if you do everything I just shared with you. When you get older, you get to have these exact same meetings. But now, instead of talking about the baggage you brought into the relationship, you talk about what you’re doing over the next three years: trips, vacations, how you want to create memories with the kids, and how you can instill some scarcity into them so they’re not complete messes when they’re on their own. That stuff is sexy. I know it sounds crazy, but when you can have those purposeful discussions that you can do date nights around, you can turn the mundane things that built this foundation into something really incredible for the future.

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