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Tips for couples about to marry FINANCES

Planning ahead can build a strong financial foundation for a new marriage. Before a couple becomes a family unit, each person has his or her own way of saving and spending, as well as their own approach to finances. Additionally, one person may be bringing more debt to the relationship than the other. How finances will be handled should be one of the first conversations - even before a reception venue is booked or a wedding gown is chosen.

When joining finances, consider these factors:

Bank accounts

Generally couples will find that a combination of joint and personal accounts makes finances easier. The joint account is used for monthly bills, housing expenses and things the couple does together. Separate accounts can be used for discretionary spending, like vacation accounts, dabbling in investments or simply for splurging. This enables each person to have an independent identity but also share the responsibility of being a couple.

Budgeting expenses

Even if each individual had a budget before the marriage, the financial status of a spouse will change the outlook. Although each person may have their preferences on certain items, talking through the best ways to pool resources and save money can be an effective start to your life together.

Estate planning

Just because a couple is relatively young and newly married doesn't mean they shouldn't begin planning for their future - including a family - immediately. Couples should explore the options on life and medical insurance plans. Sitting down with a financial planner can help, and he or she may be able to spell out options in retirement savings or education savings. It's never too early to begin investigating these scenarios.

Keep the lines of communication open

Money often makes or breaks a relationship. Having similar goals regarding saving and spending is often the key to couples melding together. The best way to work through difficulties and avoid problems concerning finances is always to talk through all of the options. Having an open line of communication about money - and participating equally in the household finances - can help bring about marital success. (MS)