Couples & Money: Merging Households

BOSTON (CBS) – The average age of a couple getting married in Massachusetts today is older; for a man it’s 31 and a woman 29. That may mean merging two households. So what should be owned individually or jointly?

  1. 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? Have fun deciding which furniture you keep and whose goes to Goodwill.
  1. A marriage does not automatically meld credit reports. 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 report and one good credit score.
  1. If you bring credit card debt or school loans into this new union you are responsible for paying off your own debt.
  1. Consider a joint checking account for household expenses and savings, but keep your individual checking accounts if you are both working. It is good to have your own money.
  1. 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!
  1. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, savings: 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.
  1. Retirement plans: be sure you are both taking advantage of what’s available from your employer and contributing the maximum you can afford.
  1. Beneficiary designations: to be sure your spouse inherits your life insurance, IRAs, retirement plans, pensions or annuities update the beneficiary designations.
  1. Health Insurance: who has the better insurance? Review the policies carefully.
  1. Estate Planning: time to re-do your estate planning now that you are married.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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