There’s a lot to think about before and after you tie the knot. Homes, cars, children...But, finances can be especially difficult to manage amongst two people with two different styles of saving and budgeting. If you’re planning on merging bank accounts, there can be some risks, so it’s important to discuss all things finance related up front and move forward with a solid plan.

Your Debts

According to Schmitz, a professor of counseling and family therapy, debt can be the number one stressor in a marriage. When you marry, your credit scores will be affected together, and to make matters worse, the beginning of a marriage is likely when you’ll be spending a lot of money. Between the wedding, the honeymoon, buying a home and furnishing the home, debts can pile up on top of previous debts.

Talk about your financial past. What do you owe and who do you owe? Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or an auto loan? Be honest and lay everything out on the table so you can come to a conclusion together. Make a list of your debts, itemize out the minimum monthly payments, and stick to a payment plan.

Merging Bank Accounts

If you don’t have joint accounts already, now is the time to merge them.

1. Share checking and savings accounts.

Checking accounts are for day-to-day purchases, while savings accounts serve as a long term cushion. It differs from couple to couple on how each person will contribute, so keep in mind that there is no right or wrong—do what works for you.

2. Decide whose account to close.

When you close an account, you’ll get a payout in the form of cash or check. The funds can then be deposited into the other account. The spouse joining the existing account will need to show ID to be added, and then they can deposit their funds. Or, if you choose, both spouses can close their accounts and open a brand new one at a different bank.

3. Set aside time to complete account closings, money transfers and new account openings.

If you bank at the same place, this will be less time consuming, but if not, it’s important to set aside some time to get everything done at once. Make sure you both have valid ID’s, and have a good idea on which checking and savings account you’d like to open.

3. Move recurring automatic payments and direct deposits to the new account.
Before closing an account, contact all of the companies with which you have automatic deposits or withdrawals and move them to the new account. Be sure all scheduled payments have cleared, then make your debit card inactive.

Discuss Finances and Have an Emergency Fund

Sharing finances with someone else isn’t always easy, so it’s essential to lose the “it’s my money” mentality and work together towards your future financial goals. Sit down once a month to go over bills, how much money you have in your accounts and how much you’d like to save. Have a big purchase coming up? Discuss how much each person should contribute in order to reach your goal.

Budgeting has to be discussed in order to have emergency funds when you need them. For example, if you want to spend over $200, it’s wise to discuss it with your spouse first. You both can come to an agreement about whether you really need it, and there won’t be any surprises when that money is missing.

Finances won’t always stay right on track. But, by discussing your budgeting and bank accounts, you can start off your marriage with good habits designed to get you back on track fast.