Financial compatibility is right up there with having a sense of humor as a top trait that couples look for in a partner, according a new poll on "Love and Money." But there can be some major differences in how partners manage money that can have serious ramifications in a relationship, and that could impact your own financial security.
For many newlyweds, tying the knot can often be complicated when it comes to finances. Make sure you have a talk—at least one a month—with your spouse about your money and your future so you can live happily ever after.
Newlyweds can begin building a great foundation by talking about their financial dreams so they can figure out how to reach them together. Some key questions include: Are you a saver or spender? Do you have money woes that keep you up at night?
Your partners should know if you're facing $25,000 in credit card debt or $75,000 in student loans, preferably before you walk down the aisle. However, if you didn't discuss it before the wedding, do it now. You also want to let your spouse know if you own property, have a side business or have investments that you've accumulated prior to your marriage, and whether you want to manage your assets on your own or together.
Even if you divide some financial responsibilities, you will need to work together to reach your financial goals. Research shows that couples are more likely to build wealth if they are working together. To get on the same page and stay on track, schedule a "money date" with your finance to go over budgets, review expenses and talk about your expectations.
"With regards to all marital money matters, I like to start with the concept of a 'financial three-way', which consists of 'yours, mine and ours'," said financial advisor Manisha Thakor, director of wealth strategies for women at The BAM Alliance.
A couple may decide that everything related to housing, food, transportation, entertainment, and vacation is considered "joint" and they pay for these out of a joint checking account. Another couple may decide that other items such as charitable giving, personal grooming, clothes, presents, and hobbies are "separate." Any of these "solo" expenses would come from separate checking and savings accounts.
You could use the same approach with credit cards, but understand the potential downsides too. "When it comes to 'joint' anything in a relationship, the actions of one party will have lasting effects on the other," said Thakor, a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisors Council.
New York-based financial advisor Stacy Francis agrees—and adds that merging finances doesn't necessarily prevent financial infidelity. "You can have joint accounts, but that does not protect you from your spouse opening an account without you being any wiser," said Francis, who is also a member of the council. "If you spouse wants to hide something- they will."
That's why financial advisors say it is so important to be open and honest about your finances. Keep talking!
Sharon Epperson is the author of "The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of their Money -- and Life Richly Ever After."