So you've found the love of your life – but now it's time to combine bank accounts. As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it's also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation. There are a lot of misconceptions about the financial ramifications of marriage, and it's time to learn what's true and what's not.
Myth: Getting Married Always Improves Your Tax Situation
We've all heard people joke that they're just going to get married for the tax benefits. Without a doubt, married couples filing jointly do often see more benefits than those filing separately. Couples typically have lower income tax liability, the standard deduction generally is higher and you may apply for other tax benefits that don't apply to single filers. However, there are still certain situations in which filing separately may be the best option. It is important to remember that filing jointly means you are jointly responsible for any interest or penalties incurred by your spouse. You may consider filing separately if you feel as though your spouse is filing inaccurately or dishonestly or is having too little federal tax withheld from their paychecks. If one spouse has higher medical expenses, it may also be a good idea to file separately. Keep in mind, however, that those filing separately are not eligible for many of the benefits joint filers receive, like the Earned Income Credit and education credits, and only one spouse may claim a child as a dependent.
"Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple" - Leslie Tayne
Myth: Married Couples Have To Have Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
If your spouse is carrying a lot of credit card debt, it may best to maintain separate accounts and pool your resources so you can avoid becoming legally responsible for their debt, which can also affect your credit score. While this may not be the most romantic move, it can be financially beneficial to both of you in the long run. If you do wish to have a joint credit card and your partner is carrying debt, open a new card together instead of adding your name to one of their existing accounts.
Myth: You Can Maintain Complete Financial Independence Once You're Married
There are misconceptions on both sides of the coin here. Many people go into marriage thinking that they are going to be able to keep all of their money separate from their partner's and that that will work out just fine. Most likely, this won't be the case. Married couples have to make a lot of financial decisions together, even if they are pulling from separate accounts. Holding on too tightly to the idea of “my money" may lead to conflict with you and your partner somewhere down the line. While you can certainly maintain some of your independence – and may want to if your partner has a bad credit history – it's important to realize that the big decisions should be a team effort.
"There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after" - Leslie Tayne
Myth: Being Married Improves Your Credit Score
In the same vein, combining your finances with your partner's does not necessarily mean your credit score will improve. Both of you will continue to carry your own individual credit score, even if you combine your accounts. Any debt of your own that you carry will continue to affect your score regardless of how well your joint accounts are doing. However, having your name added as an account holder on your spouse's account that is not in good standing will have a negative effect on your credit score. Additionally, any accounts or loans you may try to open together will take both of your scores into consideration.
Myth: You Should Open New Credit Cards If You Change Your Name
It is a common misconception that you must cancel any credit cards bearing your former name if you change it once you get married. This is simply not true – you can contact your credit card company and have your name changed on the account, and they will send you a new card with your new name. Keeping credit cards open, particularly ones with positive credit history will be in your best interest.
"As much as a marriage is about creating a lasting bond with the person you love, it's also important to remember that a marriage is a business partnership. Sharing your life with someone means sharing every part of it, including your financial situation" - Leslie Tayne
Myth: Talking About Finances Will Ruin Your Relationship
Talking about money can often be an uncomfortable subject, mainly if you fear you may have differing opinions about finances than your partner and feel as though broaching the topic may lead to conflict. However, avoiding the issue will only lead to trouble. Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you. If you make money talk a regular, everyday part of your relationship, you will be better equipped to address disagreement if it does in fact arise.
"Talking openly and honestly about your financial situation, spending habits and savings goals will only serve to strengthen your relationship and allow you and your partner to make well-thought-out decisions that will benefit both of you." - Leslie Tayne
Communication with your partner is vital when it comes to being financially successful as a married couple. If you have had credit problems in the past, be honest with your spouse about how it could affect your situation. If your spouse has had credit problems, be open about your concerns and consider how their financial history could affect your own standing. There are endless benefits to being married – including financial perks. Being educated on how marriage will change your money situation can help you find your financial happy ever after.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.