BOSTON (CBS) – According to research by Utah State University, married couples that frequently fight over money are more likely to split up. Even when compared to frequent fights over other issues—such as chores, sex and in-laws—fighting about money was a better predictor of a future divorce.
Couples are getting married later; the average age of a man is 28 and a woman 26. They are often merging two households, may even own two houses. It may be a second marriage for one or both. So what should be owned individually or owned jointly?
- Houses: If you both own your own home, you may want to consider selling them and buying one jointly. If you sell one and move into the other one, decide the ownership issues. Do you add your new spouse to the deed? Do you add them to the mortgage as a responsible party? Have fun deciding which furniture you keep and whose goes to Goodwill.
- Credit History: A marriage does not automatically meld credit histories. If one of you has a lousy credit report and is getting out of debt, be sure to keep things separate. If you do want to buy a house in the future you will have one good credit rating.
- Debt: If you bring credit card debt or school loans into this new union you are responsible for your own debt.
- Checking Accounts: Consider a joint checking account for household expenses and savings, but keep your individual checking accounts. It is good to have your own money to spend as you wish. So if you want to buy her an anniversary diamond you can. Look for a bank that will give you free checking accounts so that an extra checking account is not a financial burden.
- Credit Cards: Keep your own card and you are responsible for the payments. Consider having a joint card for the household purchases. No one needs more than two or 3 credit cards!
- Stocks, Savings, And Mutual Funds: Any assets you bring into the marriage leave in your individual accounts. Then discuss joint accounts for your future goals dipping into your individual accounts to help reach those goals.
- Retirement Plans: Be sure you are both taking advantage of what’s available from your employer and contributing the maximum you can afford.
- Beneficiary Designations: You probably would want your spouse to inherit your retirement assets or the life insurance proceeds if you should die. To be sure this happens change the beneficiary designations on your life insurance, IRAs, retirement plans, pensions and annuities.
- Cars: Keep the ownership separate, but buy your insurance together. It will be cheaper.