Financial Myths About Marriage: Debunking Blissful Misconceptions Financial Myths About Marriage Debunking Blissful Misconceptions So you’ve found the love of your life – but now it’s time to combine bank accounts. As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it’s also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation. There are a lot of misconceptions about the financial ramifications of marriage, and it’s time to learn what’s true and what’s not. Myth: Getting Married Always Improves Your Tax Situation We’ve all heard people joke that they’re just going to get married for the tax benefits. Without a doubt, married couples filing jointly do often see more benefits than those filing separately. Couples typically have lower income tax liability, the standard deduction generally is higher and you may apply for other tax benefits that don’t apply to single filers. However, there are still certain situations in which filing separately may be the best option. It is important to remember that filing jointly means you are jointly responsible for any interest or penalties incurred by your spouse. You may consider filing separately if you feel as though your spouse is filing inaccurately or dishonestly or is having too little federal tax withheld from their paychecks. If one spouse has higher medical expenses, it may also be a good idea to file separately. Keep in mind, however, that those filing separately are not eligible for many of the benefits joint filers receive, like the Earned Income Credit and education credits, and only one spouse may claim a child as a dependent. "Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple" - Leslie Tayne Myth: Married Couples Have To Have Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards If your spouse is carrying a lot of credit card debt, it may best to maintain separate accounts and pool your resources so you can avoid becoming legally responsible for their debt, which can also affect your credit score. While this may not be the most romantic move, it can be financially beneficial to both of you in the long run. If you do wish to have a joint credit card and your partner is carrying debt, open a new card together instead of adding your name to one of their existing accounts. Myth: You Can Maintain Complete Financial Independence Once You’re Married There are misconceptions on both sides of the coin here. Many people go into marriage thinking that they are going to be able to keep all of their money separate from their partner’s and that that will work out just fine. Most likely, this won’t be the case. Married couples have to make a lot of financial decisions together, even if they are pulling from separate accounts. Holding on too tightly to the idea of “my money” may lead to conflict with you and your partner somewhere down the line. While you can certainly maintain some of your independence – and may want to if your partner has a bad credit history – it’s important to realize that the big decisions should be a team effort. "There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after" - Leslie Tayne Myth: Being Married Improves Your Credit Score In the same vein, combining your finances with your partner’s does not necessarily mean your credit score will improve. Both of you will continue to carry your own individual credit score, even if you combine your accounts. Any debt of your own that you carry will continue to affect your score regardless of how well your joint accounts are doing. However, having your name added as an account holder on your spouse’s account that is not in good standing will have a negative effect on your credit score. Additionally, any accounts or loans you may try to open together will take both of your scores into consideration. Myth: You Should Open New Credit Cards If You Change Your Name It is a common misconception that you must cancel any credit cards bearing your former name if you change it once you get married. This is simply not true – you can contact your credit card company and have your name changed on the account, and they will send you a new card with your new name. Keeping credit cards open, particularly ones with positive credit history will be in your best interest. “As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it’s also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation” – Leslie Tayne Myth: Talking About Finances Will Ruin Your Relationship Talking about money can often be an uncomfortable subject, mainly if you fear you may have differing opinions about finances than your partner and feel as though broaching the topic may lead to conflict. However, avoiding the issue will only lead to trouble. Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you. If you make money talk a regular, everyday part of your relationship, you will be better equipped to address disagreement if it does in fact arise. “Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you.” – Leslie Tayne Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple. If you have had credit problems in the past, be honest with your spouse about how it could affect your situation. If your spouse has had credit problems, be open about your concerns and consider how their financial history could affect your own standing. There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after. Leslie Tayne Leslie H. Tayne has more than 15 years' experience in the practice area of consumer and business financial debt-related services. Speaker, Author of Life & Debt, Attorney and Founder of the Tayne Law Group, P.C., Leslie is working towards reshaping the debt industry by offering real, proven solutions to help her clients get back on the road to financial freedom.