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Columns: Dr. Don
Don Taylor, Ph.D., CFA, CFP   Expert: Don Taylor, Ph.D., CFA, CFP
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There's no one right way to make arrangements
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Planning finances before the wedding

Dear Dr. Don,
I'm getting married in September 2007 and I wanted to know how much money should one put in a joint account, or even if a married couple should have a joint account?

We both get paychecks that are direct deposited. What's the necessary financial advice for newly married couples so that in the future, if the couple parts ways, it will be clean financial chart for both instead of just one person ending up paying up for the other person's debts.

Thanks, and I really will appreciate a quick reply.
-- Tina Triage

Dear Tina,
Best wishes to you and your fiancé on the eve of your wedding. You're right to try and put together a financial game plan for handling your finances as a couple, but I'll tell you that there's not just one right way to do it. That's why they call it personal finance.

Don't confuse your savings and checking account relationships with your credit accounts. Avoiding bounced checks and insufficient funds is important, but won't have a big impact on your ability to get credit. That comes from managing your credit and paying as agreed on credit accounts. You'll each have your own credit report, but joint credit obligations show up on both credit reports. That's where things tend to go bad if a couple splits up.

Having three bank accounts -- a joint account for household bills and two individual accounts for personal expenditures -- makes more sense than allocating bills between two individual accounts. An important consideration in this allocation is in how you will fund investment and retirement accounts.

It's often possible to split your paycheck between multiple accounts. If you have that ability with your paychecks it's a simple matter to fund both the household account and your individual accounts every payday.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Aug. 23, 2007
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