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As you make preparations for the big day, you may be asking yourself, “How do you combine finances as a blended family before the wedding date?" The answer is not easy, because in some cases, you cannot legally merge your finances until after marriage. In other situations, it would be a hassle to combine finances as a couple, and then merge it again to enjoy the financial and legal benefits of officially becoming husband and wife. Children can also make combining certain aspects of your finances difficult, because a legal relationship is not yet established. If you’re willing to postpone some of the more complex financial planning until after you’re married, then there are tips to handle simple money matters.
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Tip #1: Determine What Expenses to Eliminate
Every household has its own peculiar spending habits. What you might view as a necessity, your soon-to-be spouse may view as frivolous. The difference of opinion can be become a source of friction and lead to arguments and problems in your marriage. Avoid that by determining ahead of time what expenses to eliminate after the wedding date. Create a budget that includes only the expenses you agree to take on, and only what you can afford without going into debt. Make this one of the first tips on how to combine finances as a blended family that you implement before the wedding.
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Tip #2: Compare Financial Products
Each of you owns at least one financial product, and you need to compare similar and related products that you own to determine what to keep and what to get rid of. Examine the benefits of each to see which would save you money, which is more affordable, and which has the best value. For example, compare the auto insurance policies you own carefully to evaluate which one offers the best discounts and coverage. Drop the other policy and add both names to the best one. Do the same for bank accounts, renters insurance, and other products.
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Tip #3: Dump Debt
Blended families face enough of a challenge combining two different households, so why add debt to the mix? You may not be able to get rid of it all, or even make a significant dent in the balance you owe. However, working as hard as possible toward eliminating the debts you owe prior to the wedding date is the best tip on how to combine finances as a blended family. Start by closing credit card accounts and don’t take on any new debt. Learn ways to reduce your spending and live a more frugal life. Apply the extra money toward paying off your debts.
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Tip #4: Build an Emergency Cash Reserve
Determine how you’ll build an emergency cash reserve consisting of three months of living expenses after you merge households. Your fiancé may earn enough money to build up the cash reserve with little problems, while it would be difficult for you to do that. Discuss how much each of you can contribute, if anything, taking into consideration the debts you’ll be trying to pay off prior to marriage and each person’s overall financial circumstances.
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Before you explore how to combine finances as a blended family before the wedding date, you should agree on the underlying values that shape the way you think and make decisions. Different values will result in different money management practices.
Please be sure to check out the other tips and strategies in Bright Hub's collection of personal and household budgeting guides.
Image Credit: Benjamin Earwicker