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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honor one of life’s greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love—and to say, hey, if you plan on lasting ’til death do you part, as soon as this wedding . . . er, article . . . is over, you and your spouse might want to hightail it straight to the bank and combine those accounts.
Combine accounts? That might make you wince. People have strong opinions on whether spouses should share bank accounts. If you and your spouse already share, then you’ve probably seen what a blessing that’s been to your marriage.
But if you’re getting married and still deciding what to do, or if you’re married and maintain separate accounts, keep reading.
Related: Need a way to manage your combined accounts? Check out our free budget app EveryDollar!
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First, though, keep this in mind: If you’re dating or engaged, now is not the time to combine. Yes, you may love each other. The wedding date may be set. But too many engaged couples have split before the big day. And if they’ve already combined their money, that’s one big mess to clean up.
As soon as the preacher says, “And now you are one,” combining your finances is one of the first things you should do. Then you and your spouse can manage your money together.
Finance expert Larry Burkett said, “Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages.” In fact, a study out of Kansas State University found that the number one cause of divorce in America is money fights and money problems. But when you’re on the same page about money, all that’s left to fight over is the remote.
The Power of Teamwork
Kristy and her husband learned that the hard way. They kept their accounts separate for the first few years of their marriage. But, she says, the secrecy around their spending created trust issues between them. Was he giving money to his ex, gambling and drinking, or purchasing expensive items without talking to her first?
After listening to The Dave Ramsey Show during a long car trip and realizing they knew nothing about handling their money together, they enrolled in Financial Peace University at their church. Lessons on saving and budgeting taught them the basics, and from there, they learned how to communicate about money. As soon as they combined their accounts and began budgeting together, the issues disappeared.
Like Kristy and her spouse learned, we can’t keep each area of our marriage neatly separated. Money touches everything, so if a couple is fighting about money, that tension can also affect areas like trust, parenting or intimacy.
But when a couple manages their money together, they’re agreeing on their hopes, dreams and goals—and on how to reach them.
Plus, let’s be honest: Combining accounts is just easier. Ever tried splitting bills fifty-fifty in a roommate situation—writing each other checks and transferring money all the time? It’s a pain, and one you can completely erase from your marriage if you combine accounts.
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How to Combine Your Bank Accounts in 5 Easy Steps
So, are you on board? If you’re ready to start, check out these tips for combining your cash once and for all:
1. Share checking and savings accounts.
Both serve different, but equally important, purposes: day-to-day expenses versus longer savings goals and emergencies. Both of you should participate in both areas.
2. Move recurring automatic debits and direct deposits to the new combined account.
Before you close a single account, contact all of the companies with which you have automatic deposits or debits and move them to the new account. Be sure all scheduled payments have cleared, though. Then stop using your debit card so you won’t create more pending transactions.
3. Set aside a block of time to complete all account closings, money transfers and new account openings.
Add a little more time if you’ll have to start at one bank and finish at another.
4. Keep the process simple if you and your spouse already have accounts at the same bank.
You’ll both have to show up with valid ID. Then you can close one spouse’s accounts completely, transfer their money to the other spouse’s accounts, and add their name. Or you can open new ones with both spouses as account holders.
5. Decide whose accounts to close if you and your spouse use different banks.
You’ll get a cash or check payout from the closed accounts, so take the funds to a branch of the bank where the combined accounts will be. The spouse joining the existing account will need to show ID to be added, and then they can deposit their funds. Or, if you choose, both spouses can close their accounts and open a brand new one at the bank of their choice.
Simple enough, right? So what are you waiting for? It’s time to combine your accounts and get on the same page about money. We have Financial Peace University groups meeting in your area that will help you manage money as a team. Find your group.