Choosing Between Single and Joint Accounts
One of the first decisions you'll have to make when you and your significant other move in together is how to merge your finances. You have two main options:
Open a joint checking account, deposit both your paychecks into that account, and jointly pay all bills out of that account. This is the option that most married couples choose, because it simplifies the question of “How much money do we have?” Most people who have a joint checking account also have joint everything else: Credit cards; retirement accounts; savings accounts; and so on.
If you choose this option, however, be sure to designate one person as the official bill payer in the family. Also, you need to find a way to keep track of the amounts that are debited from the account (through debit cards, checks, and Internet payments) each day or week.
Keep separate accounts, as they were before you moved in together. Each person's paycheck goes into his or her account, and the bills are divided up, with each paying a share of the bills.
This is the option most unmarried couples choose. It offers the most autonomy and independence, but it can create resentment, especially if one person makes significantly more than the other, and thus has substantially more spending money.
To combat this problem, some couples divide the bills according to income, so that if one person makes 40 percent more than the other, he or she also pays 40 percent more of the bills than the other, thus leaving both with similar cash for spending.
Prenuptial agreements may seem like the least romantic idea you've ever heard, but a recent Harvard University study found that prenups usually aren't primarily about money. Instead, they detail how the couple plans to raise children, under what grounds the couple can divorce, and so on. Prenups usually mean that the couple has spent significant time talking about how they see the marriage working, and that can only be good.