John and I are celebrating our four year wedding anniversary next week! In addition, my little sister is getting married a few days after our four year anniversary. In celebration of her new marriage and our upcoming anniversary, I thought I’d share my financial tips for newlyweds.
John and I moved in together after dating for eight months. He proposed one year later and we were married two months after that. (We eloped in Vegas…I’ll have to share that story one day!) When we first moved in together, everything was 50/50. We didn’t combine bank accounts, we split rent, we split every bill and we usually took turns paying when eating out. After we were married, we decided to live off of one income. To do this, we moved to a less expensive apartment and limited our spending money. We combined our bank accounts and no longer split everything. Once married, our finances were “ours,” not “mine” or “his.” Fast forward three months after getting married, and we found out we were expecting our first baby! Now, we really had to get serious with saving so we could have a down payment on our first house. Since we were both working, we put all of my income into savings and lived solely off of John’s income. Was this rough? Absolutely, but it allowed us to really ramp up our savings and pay off our debt. Now, we still live off of one income and save all mine.
Financial tips for newlyweds
Get on the same page. Hopefully, before tying the knot, you and your fiance have had an in-depth conversation about money. If you haven’t, you need to have it as soon as possible. It is so important to be on the same page financially and make sure your goals align. Finances are one of the leading causes of divorce – don’t let this happen to you because you simply didn’t communicate. One great way to get on the same page is to allow someone else to help you figure out your finances. Wealth Within, for example, has been around for over a decade seeking to provide financial solutions to help their clients achieve their goals. Sometimes, talking to a third party about finances is a great way to avoid any fights or resentment.
Figure out what works for you. Not every couple combines their finances. While I personally do recommend combining everything, you most certainly do not have to. Some couples continue having separate accounts and splitting the bills, others pay the bills based on a percentage of their income (so if your husband makes more than you, he might pay 60% of the bills and you pay 40%) and others have a joint account for bills and then their own separate accounts for personal purchases. As long as your finances are out in the open and you’re communicating about them regularly, the accounts are just a formality.
Have financial check-ins weekly. You can make this fun by turning it into a date, but the point is to regularly keep the communication going about your finances. John and I haven’t had a disagreement about money in years, and it’s due to the fact that we don’t keep secrets and we are both on the same page. Our goals align and our spending matches our goals. Currently, we’re saving for a down payment on a house. Neither one of us purchases things out of the blue and we trust each other completely. If there’s a big expense one of us needs (like a new tool for John or makeup for me), we run it by the other person. We don’t “ask” each other permission, but it’s polite to keep one another in the loop. This way, there are no surprises, and therefore no fights!
Work together to pay off your debt. Most married couples do enter into a marriage with debt – whether that’s credit card debt, student loan debt, car debt or a combination of the three. I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest making a plan to eliminate all of your debts as a team as soon as possible. This should be your first priority. It should come before buying a house and perhaps even before having a baby. When you’re debt-free, you open yourselves to a world of possibilities, including having one person stay at home with a baby, starting your own businesses (together or separately) and pursuing what you love for a living. John and I got out of debt right away and haven’t looked back. Lack of debt allowed us to move across the country, it’s allowed me to stay at home with our daughters and it’s allowed both of us to work for ourselves.
Remember, you and your spouse are a team. By reminding yourself of this daily and being on the same page, especially when it comes to your finances, you’ll start your marriage off on the right foot.
What financial tips for newlyweds would you add to this list?
photo credit: Flickr via Jerry Ferguson