Moving Forward Together

As a married couple, evaluating where you are financially and setting shared goals is important. Once you define your goals as individuals and as a married couple, it will help you plan the means to reach your goals.

Goal and Career Planning

Retirement

A comfortable retirement should be a top priority for every individual. Since people are living longer than ever, retirement savings need to last longer and work harder. Develop a plan to ensure you are each contributing enough to your retirement funds to ensure the life you want during your golden years. Our section on retirement can help.

Debt

If you or your spouse has considerable debt, one of your first goals should be to pay it off so you can focus on other financial goals. The first step is to get an accurate picture of how much is owed. Next, review your budget and construct a plan to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. The more you can pay per month, the less you will pay in interest overall. For more information on tackling debt, click here.

Together or Separate?

Every couple has a different approach to how fully they would like to integrate their finances. Here are a few of the decisions you are likely to face as a married couple:

  • Taxes Once married, you will have the option of filing your annual income tax returns separately or jointly with your spouse. Filing jointly means that you will add your income and deductions together when filing. Most couples file jointly because it is easier to file one return than two, and some deductions and credits are only available to married couples filing jointly. It is always a smart idea to consult a tax professional when making tax-related decisions like these.
  • Bank Accounts When it comes to whether to maintain joint or individual bank accounts, every couple is different. There are numerous options: you can maintain separate bank accounts and each pay a portion of your bills, deposit a set amount into a shared account each month and pay your bills using that account while maintaining separate accounts for your own expenses, or pool all of your money in one account. If you decide to hold any of your accounts jointly, be sure to keep track of your transactions carefully and to communicate them to your spouse. With two individuals using one account, tracking cash flow can be difficult.
  • Credit Cards You should each keep at least one credit card in your own name to maintain a credit history of your own. If you divorce or one of you dies, it will be much easier to get a mortgage, loan or credit card with some individual credit activity.