Whether you read them online or heard them from friends, you're probably buying into a few married-money myths—excuse the pun. It's time to set those myths aside and focus on the facts instead. Even when it comes to money, "you can't apply a blanket statement to something as special as your marriage," says finance expert Elle Kaplan, owner of LexION Capital. Here's what to believe instead.
Myth: Talking about money kills the romance of a relationship.
If talking about money doesn't exactly put you in the mood, you're probably in good company. "Since we were little, we were taught that it's impolite to discuss money in social situations, and this is especially true when it comes to romance," Kaplan says. But being open about money issues can actually increase your intimacy. "Couples who discuss money openly often have a happier and more successful marriage," Kaplan insists. Why? "You're not just talking about your salary—you're aligning your relationship goals, such as buying a house or retiring together," she says.
Myth: Your tax burden will increase once you get married.
With tax season upon us, you might be worried about what your marriage will do to your return. But don't panic yet. "Your tax burden won't necessarily increase," says Kaplan. It's all about how you file. "Spouses still have the option to file their taxes separately, where you and your spouse each report your own individual income, deductions, credits, and exemptions on different tax returns," she explains. Your accountant will know which option is best for you. "Filing jointly can also sometimes result in a lowered tax burden," she says. "It all depends on your financial situation."
Myth: You don't need a retirement fund if your spouse has one.
There's a good chance you could outlive your partner, but not his or her retirement fund. "You can't assume your spouse's retirement fund will be enough," Kaplan warns. "While it's OK in some situations to rely on your spouse financially, women should take steps to ensure they can thrive independently in their golden years." So invest in your own retirement account as much as you can, as soon as you can.
Myth: Your credit scores are combined once you tie the knot.
"Marriage may be a union, but your credit scores don't combine after saying 'I do,'" Kaplan says. Even if you combine your bank accounts, your scores will still stay their own three-digit numbers. Now, "most big-ticket financing, like a mortgage, will take into account both spouses' credit scores," says Kaplan. In that way, your partner's credit score does matter. "Couples need to openly discuss their credit and take steps to fix it well before they need financing," says Kaplan.
Myth: Married couples should have joint bank accounts.
There's nothing wrong with joint bank accounts. But they simply may not work for you—and that's OK. "Couples often find it helpful to have separate accounts for day-to-day discretionary spending," says Kaplan. "There's always going to be small spending that spouses won't do together, like buying new flats or going to a sports game." If you do keep separate accounts, the key to your financial and relationship success will be transparency. "Spending in separate accounts should never come as a complete surprise," Kaplan says. "Many couples discuss any purchase they make over $100, or set ground rules for how much spending is done separately."