How to manage money as a married couple

Money and finances are a common source of disagreement and stress in a marriage. This is true even when there’s plenty of money, and often becomes heightened during a period of financial strain. Good communication is often the key. Here are some things you can do to avoid common pitfalls.

Married couple in a park

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – managing your money during the crisis

The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation is causing financial uncertainty for most people, with many worried about being impacted by the global crisis. For newly married couples, this can make managing your finances even more challenging. If your income or finances are affected by the crisis, you can find helpful resources and support at Barclays Coronavirus help and support to help manage during this time. 

Create a family budget

Good communication is crucial for any successful relationship. That’s particularly true when it comes to family finances. Sitting down to create a family budget is a great way to start a constructive dialogue about how to manage your money together. Budgeting may not be fun, but it’s a good opportunity to discuss each partner’s existing loans, debts, credit history and spending habits. That way, you can identify potential issues early, and create a plan for building a future together.

Even if you are used to budgeting on your own, doing it with your partner may bring its own challenges. From discussing personal expenses and debts to agreeing on cash flows and joint bank accounts, there’s lots to consider. Good communication could make all the difference. Our practical hands-on budgeting guide can also help. How to plan and stick to a budget includes useful tips and tools to manage spending, start saving and handle debts.

There’s no right and wrong when it comes to budgeting. But it pays to agree on how to share day-to-day basics like groceries, bills, and individual expenses.

If you have debts to consider, our Barclays Budget Planner has a handy tool to help plan out repayments on your credit cards and loans. You can also use our repayment calculator to help you save on the interest payments on your credit cards.

Your first family budget is also a time of opportunity – a chance to create a savings plan for a shared goal like a holiday or a house. If you are thinking about buying your first house, check out our First-time home buyer's guide for things to consider.

Should you open a separate or joint bank account?

One of the first things couples will want to consider is whether to keep their bank accounts separate or switch everything to a joint bank account. These days, many couples rely on a combination of both. There are pros and cons to each approach, depending on your particular needs. Here are some things to consider.

A joint account

Some couples decide to combine their finances into a joint account when they get married. It’s a good way to ensure all the household bills are paid, and that the costs are shared evenly. However, this approach can have pitfalls if one of you has a poor credit score. That’s because you’ll be ‘co-scored’ in a joint account, so your credit score could be affected by that of your partner. So it’s a good idea for both of you to check your credit scores before combining your finances.

A separate account

These days, lots of couples choose to keep their accounts separate. In many cases, that’s because people are often marrying a little later in life, once they’re earning and have their own savings and investments.

If you’re not planning on a joint account, and decide on individual current accounts or savings accounts instead, it’s especially important to agree in advance on who covers which expense. Make sure to include them all – from utilities, car insurance, mortgage and rent to other ongoing expenses. That way, you could avoid late payments and unnecessary strain on the marriage. Thankfully, some bills can now be paid automatically by setting up a direct debit from your account.

Open both joint and separate accounts

Many couples choose a combined approach – keeping their own accounts while opening a joint account for shared family expenses like their mortgage, groceries and utility bills. That way, they can be sure that those expenses are covered. They also keep their own separate bank accounts for personal spending. It’s the best of both worlds, allowing each to enjoy their own personal freedom while ensuring that shared interests are taken care of.

Use a credit card to help manage your finances

A credit card can be a convenient and flexible way to borrow money and handle family expenses. That’s true whether you decide on an individual or joint credit card. A credit card could be a good way to spread out the cost of your spending on purchases, to earn rewards or to help keep track of family spending depending on the card that you choose. Of course, it’s important to remember that there will be interest charges to consider, and all lending is subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history.

So if you’re getting a card for larger purchases, a purchase credit card with 0% interest introductory rates will let you spread the costs over a longer period.

Representative example

Representative APR
20.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate
20.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on a
£1,200
credit limit
Annual Fee
No annual fee

The approval of your application depends on financial circumstances and borrowing history, so do the terms you may be offered. The balance transfer period and interest rates, may differ from those shown.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning on paying off your balance each month, a rewards credit card lets you earn cashback on everything you spend. And if you don’t have much of a credit history, a credit card may be a good way to start building your credit history as you build on a long-term goal of buying a home.

Representative example

Representative APR
22.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate
22.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on a
£1,200
credit limit
Annual Fee
No annual fee

The approval of your application depends on financial circumstances and borrowing history, so do the terms you may be offered. The balance transfer period and interest rates, may differ from those shown.

If you’re thinking of a credit card to help manage finances and plan for your future, have a look at some options to help get you off on the right foot.

What's next?

Find the right credit card to help you stay on top of household spending.

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