I'm married. Now what do I do?

As I mentioned elsewhere, I got married a few weeks ago. It’s my first marriage, so I’m not entirely sure about everything I need to or should do to inform various people/companies/agencies about my changed status.

We have scheduled an appointment with a lawyer/accountant to advise us about wills, insurance, etc., so he’ll cover a lot of the important things. But what about the rest? Obviously, I’ll be letting everyone know about my change of address when I move, but who else needs to know that I’m married?

What other advice do you have about the daily practicalities of being married? Combined or separate bank accounts? Filing tax returns jointly or separately (I own a business, and she’s a private school teacher)?

(And no, I don’t need any advice on sex, thank you very much.)

I knew a couple who did their bank account this way:
They had a joint account.
Each put in 75% of their pay in the joint account. That was for all their expenses. House, car, food, etc.
The 25% they used for their personal things. This way they did not have that fight about “why did you spend 100 dollars on a XXXXX?” The XXXX came out of the 25% and was not anyone else’s business.

I always thought it was a good system.

Of course, they are now divorced, so maybe not so much…

Every couple is going to have to make a decision about how to share money. My wife and I have basically put all our incomes into joint accounts, and we’ve been married 34 years. But others may need their own separate money.

Come back after this practice marriage is over, and then we can all give you real advice for your second marriage. :wink:

Seriously, WRT to taxes, you should file for tax years going forward that will provide you the lowest tax bill. Most likely that will be “married filing jointly”. But each situation is unique, so you may need to look at both ways, or consult your tax advisor.

Since your wife is a teacher, does her employer provide health insurance benefits? You should see which is the better deal, having her add you to her coverage, or vice-versa, you adding her to your policy, or both going separate.

And lastly, keep having regularly scheduled date nights, where you two go out. Married couples can get into a lull where they quit going out as a couple.

Yeah, you do. But you’ll be back to ask about that later.

For the other, unimportant stuff, it all depends on what the two of you decide. I know there was a long thread about joint vs separate bank accounts a couple of months ago. If you are young you may want to combine everything. Older folks are probably more set in their ways and may want to keep things separate.

If I were just married I would have a long sit down talk about money: What debt does each person have? What income does each have? What long and short term goals do we have together (buy a house, have kids, travel?) Set out at least a basic budget and divide some responsibilities, both bills and chores, so you don’t both assume the other is covering things.

I think these items would best be covered before the wedding occurs.

Taxes you should run the numbers both ways and see what gives you the best return. Check the tax laws in your jurisdiction however and find out if filing one way locks you in. Might be worth taking a small hit in the first year if it works out better for you the other way in the long run. That one is definitely worth speaking to a tax accountant about even if you normally do your own taxes. Your business accountant may not be the best person for this, ask for a referral to a personal tax accountant if you’re unsure.

Finances - that’s really up to you and your lovely wife, but my husband and I use a slightly edited version of what Khadaji’s friends do. We put all of our money into a joint account and twice a month I put our “allowance” into our individual accounts. The amount that is and what comes out of it require up front discussion but it solved a few financial issues for us and gave us the privacy to buy gifts for each other and keep them a surprise. Right now the amounts are the same, but since we decided that eating out at lunch was coming out of our individual accounts for the period that I was not working his was higher than mine to allow for that. It doesn’t really matter what system you use to handle your money as long as you talk about it and you both agree it’s the right decision.

Yeah, I agree. A bit late for the OP though.

Yeah, I got married last fall, and when Mr. Horseshoe crunched the numbers both ways, the difference was astonishing. As in, pay a low-three-digit number or receive a high-three-digit number. :eek: That’s largely because of a pay disparity - my (limited) understanding is that if both salaries are roughly equal it doesn’t matter as much.

You may need to re-do some paperwork with your HR: payroll deductions, etc.

Mazel tov, you crazy kids! :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the replies so far. I’m 55 and my wife is somewhat younger, so I’m pretty sure this is our last marriage. (She was married once before.) And we had the money talk before getting married and both understand our basic financial situations.

BTW, I’m not looking just for financial advice. Are there other government agencies, businesses, or entities that want or need to know about the marriage? Anyone we *shouldn’t *tell? Other practical tips you can offer about being newly married?

Whether she’s taken your name or not your wife should add her married name as an alias on all her bank accounts. Likewise if she has changed her name she should keep her maiden name listed as an alias even if she’s not planning on ever using it again.

You should probably change your profile picture, unless you did actually marry Kari Byron.

Why? I’ve been married under my birth name for 20+ years, and I’ve never had an issue with banking because of it. (Then again, we also keep our accounts completely separate, with “agent” status for the spouse for emergency access.)

Because, like I did, you may have a well-meaning aunt who makes a check out to a name that isn’t actually your name (like your first name and your husband’s last name), and it’s nice to be able to deposit it without having to go back to your well-meaning aunt and ask her to rip it up and write a new one. I didn’t have an issue, but some people might.

With respect to bank accounts, do whatever works for you. There are a lot of ways to do things that can work, but what’s important is how it works for you.

My wife and I had both been on our own a good while before we got married, so we just kept the same bank accounts we had already, and we adjusted who paid which bills to keep things more or less even. We talked about having a joint account, but never bothered, and it’s worked for us for 20 years and counting.

Others put all their money in a joint account, others put some or most in a joint account. Do what works for the two of you - it’s your marriage, not anyone else’s.

Tax returns: in this TurboTax age, it surely can’t be that difficult to do them both ways, and see if it makes much of a difference in what you owe. If it does, then do what saves you the most money. If not, do it whichever way you two prefer. Given that your tax returns have surely been very different, separate returns might be simpler if there’s no money to be saved by filing jointly, but it’s really your call.

One big thing is health insurance. You might save a bit of money by one of you being on the other’s policy. Definitely check into that, but keep reliability of continued coverage in mind in that decision, e.g. if she went on your policy, how sure are you that your existing coverage will continue between now and Medicare eligibility?

I recieved a lot of cheques in my married name for my wedding. I didn’t even have the paperwork to begin to prove I was married for weeks later.

Then I tried to go just new married last name, (ex) husband freaked out, I went hyphenated, then when we split up I went back to my own name and am keeping it for ever. My son has the ex’s last name but my last name as a middle name.

Huh. I don’t have any aliases on my accounts - we have one joint checking account for everything, and one joint savings account - and I didn’t take my husband’s last name. I regularly get checks from his grandparents made out to “Snickers HisLastName,” but my bank doesn’t seem to have any problem cashing them. That said, there’s a couple reasons why they might not have any problem:

[li]They’re generally for deposit only. I rarely withdraw funds at the same time I deposit them. It’s my understanding that depositing funds into account is easier and requires less identification than withdrawing funds from that same account.[/li][li]Since it’s a joint account, both my husband’s name and my name are listed on it. It’s probably simple enough for them to make the leap that the check’s just misaddressed, as it were.[/li][/ol]

Don’t forget that now that you are married, your alternative filing choice to “married filing jointly” is not “filing single” but “married filing separately”, which is not the same thing at all. Even if filing single would be simpler and would save you money, that is rarely the case with married filing separately.

Nice though Kari is, I married someone better! (And Kari married someone else a few months after meeting me, anyway.) But thanks for the reminder!

Aw, I missed it. What was the picture before, and did something mention marrying her or finding her hot?

The only advice I have is from watching my parents. Don’t have just one person do the finances unless you are sure both of you are happy with it, and reevaluate the situation periodically to make sure there’s no resentment.

Money seems to be the one thing ever couple I’ve ever seen winds up fighting over at some point. Try to stay ahead of it.