When it comes to money management, one of the most common questions for married couples is: should we combine our finances? In my opinion, the short answer is yes. Of course, there might be an extreme situation where addictive behavior (e.g., drugs/alcohol/gambling) makes the combining of finances unwise.
In general however, the best approach for a couple is to handle their money together (if you are engaged, wait until after you are married). And here is why you should combine your finances:
- Transparency: Everything is on the table and all of the financial details are known to both of you. What are the assets we own? How much money comes in every month? How much money is owed and to whom? What are our monthly bills? There are no secrets and because of that there are no surprises. This transparency allows you to build the trust that is essential for both of you to win with money (Prov 27:23).
- Teamwork: When both of you know the details of your finances, you both can contribute to the decisions that need to made. You have the information so you both can help with the day to day management of money. Each of you has an equal vote and no one person is left carrying the emotional load by themselves. Two is indeed better than one (Eccl 4:9).
- Terminology: In a marriage, we are supposed to be moving towards oneness (Gen 2:24). This also applies to your money, so you need a new language to deal with finances. When you combine your finances you should no longer refer to something as “yours” or “mine“. You may have brought student loan to the table, but now, both of you have student loan debt. Your spouse might have run up debt on credit cards, but now both of you have credit card debt that needs to be paid off. Only one of you may be an income earner, but all the money that comes in is “ours“.
Money management can be very challenging. As a couple, you could make it extra hard on yourselves if you are pulling in different directions. Put your marriage vows into action and decide that you will combine your finances. It will be the best indicator that you are indeed building a life together, for better or for worse.