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As a married couple, the amount of income tax you'll be responsible for paying largely depends on whether you plan on filing together or separately. The differences are great. But here are some main points for you to consider when looking at filing joint or separate income tax returns.

• It varies from couple to couple. It really depends on your particular situation. And, unfortunately, a downside is that there are no real ways to tell on your own which is best. You should do some research, consult with your tax preparer or accountant in order to figure out which way is best for you.
• Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file together. Many married couples actually save money by filing for income tax separately.
• This mainly depends on how much income you have separately and together and whether you'll be itemizing your deductions. Generally, if one person has a substantial amount of deductions, it's better for you and your spouse to file separately because you'll save more money personally, but when you file jointly, you may not even get to claim your deductions.
• If you don't itemize your deductions, it might be best to file jointly. There are certain tax breaks for married couples that can benefit joint filing.

Is it worth it to have joint health insurance?

Again, this depends on your particular situation. This is another issue you should look at carefully and weigh all the options. Get information from both your health care insurance providers and look at how much it would cost for either of you to add the other to the one plan. Find out which would be the best deal. Further, don't forget that every insurance plan is different, and just because you're paying less for maintaining joint health insurance on one plan doesn't mean the other isn't a better deal. Look at what's being offered and figure out which plan you want. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your insurance agent or of the human resources department at your company. They are there to help you.

Should you have a joint checking account?

There are several factors to consider when looking at whether you and your spouse should have a joint checking account. The biggest problem a couple runs into is overspending. You need to decide what the account will be used for: will it be used only to pay bills such as utilities and rent, or will you buy supplies and food with that account, as well? If you decide to use it only to pay bills, you likely won't run into any problem. The difficulty often comes in when both parties decide they want to use the checking account for their lunches out with their co-workers, or to buy that extra pair of shoes or pants they've been wanting. Often, the other person doesn't know about this expense. That's when the other person decides to spend some money on another item, and the next thing you know you are bouncing checks. Keeping clear records is important. If you feel it necessary to have a joint account, either keep clear, concise records on a daily basis, or use the joint account for one sector of your bills and have separate accounts for miscellaneous items.