The Budget Couple

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Episode 37: How to Combine Incomes When Getting Married

Tips and tricks on how to combine incomes and lead a financially stable marriage. Nate and Danielle answer a listener question and give a crash course on budgeting advice when you are getting married.

Show Notes

Listener email

So I am getting married next summer and would like some tips and tricks on how to join finances? How to pick which bank we will stick with, joining credit cards, all that sort of stuff. What else should I be thinking about before or after we get married? Life insurance, IRA’s, house down payments, etc.

Other facts:

  • Make $30K each
  • No debt
  • Cash flowing college and wedding
  • Want to save for a home and a car (Chevy Volt (go used please))
  • Want to put 20% down
  • Want to stick to less than $150K for a house

Joining Finances


The easy stuff:

  • Open or add a name to a bank account
  • Look for a bank that has good policies (ATM fees, checking fees, money order fees)
  • Direct all paychecks to that account
  • Close any existing accounts and deposit money into a new account

The hard stuff:

  • Agreeing on a budget
  • Wants vs. Needs
  • Discuss goals. Set them out for three months, one year, five years, and ten years

Credit Cards

Basically the same as banks. Joining them isn’t essential as long as you both can be trusted with your cards. We joined to get more rewards points. But look at cards with good rewards programs and no fees. We have a Citi Double Cash card that pays 2% and a Capital One Savor card that now pays 4% on dining and entertainment (also now has a $95 fee that we were grandfathered under so we don’t have to pay it)

Before Getting Married

Discuss money and how you both think of it. How do you spend your money? Do you value the same things? How will you handle disagreements on money issues?

Other Marriage Nuts and Bolts

  • Get term life insurance on both of you. Usually requires a physical (we did ours in our house at no cost to us) and set an amount that is roughly 10 times your income individually.
    • The thinking behind this is that if one of you dies, you can invest their life insurance money and still live on their income if it returns 10%. 
    • Term life is also crazy inexpensive for the money that you could get paid out.
  • We both like IRAs because you have a bit more control than a 401K and it’s tax-free when you retire. This saves you a ton of money.
    • For example, if you invested 10K and it grows to 100K, you only pay taxes on the original amount invested and you did it before you even invested the money. On a 401K and that same 10K, you would pay taxes on the 100K.
  • For housing, your first goal is to have an emergency fund and everything else paid for.
  • Once you have that out any of your extra money into savings and build up your down payment.

Other Notes

You said that you are cash-flowing college, a wedding, and want to buy a car, along with saving for a house. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t hit all of these goals in 1-2 years. It’s ambitious. 

When you budget you could figure out how much you want to set aside for each of the items and work backwards from there as far as your money for entertainment and such goes.

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