Getting married is a happy and exciting time. One of the issues that can quickly put a damper on the positive energy, though, is money. Financial issues can create a lot of stress and even animosity. Ideally, you’ve already had a lot of communication regarding your finances. If you haven’t, a little prevention isn’t a bad idea. It can be much nicer to discuss the topic of money before it becomes necessary and tensions are high. Be proactive. Heed these helpful money tips for newlyweds:
1. Agree on a set of financial rules and goals. Work together to establish a few rules around your finances. Will you pay your own, previously established debts? Will bills be split evenly, or will the person with the greater salary pay more?
• When you share a vision of the future, it’s much easier to get along.
2. Create two wills. You’ll both need a will. If you already have one, speak with an attorney and have it modified. Ensure that you’re taking care of each other.
3. Put all your financial cards on the table. Do you have a credit card with a $20,000 balance you’ve kept from your significant other? Will it take 20 years to pay off your student loans? Let your spouse know what’s going on and ask them to return the favor.
4. Control your expenses. Just because you’re splitting the rent and the utilities doesn’t mean you should spend your excess funds foolishly.
• Take advantage of your extra cash and maximize your contributions to your retirement accounts. Invest rather than spend. You might even consider saving one salary and living on the other.
5. Talk about extended family financial issues. If your brother wants to borrow $1,000, how will you handle that as a couple? If your spouse’s mom needs a new roof, will you chip in? Your respective families may handle these matters very differently. Have a conversation.
6. Update your beneficiaries. You’ll probably want to list your spouse on your life insurance, retirement accounts, and several other accounts and policies.
7. Create a budget together. You’ll find out a lot about your partner’s spending habits by creating a budget together. A budget sets limits and expectations.
• An effective budget is an important part of a bright financial future.
8. Decide on a banking structure. One joint account or two separate accounts? Maybe you prefer a mixture of joint and separate accounts. There is no right answer, just be sure you’re both on the same page.
9. Choose one person to pay the bills and schedule regular meetings to go over bills. Choose one person to be responsible for paying all the bills. Have a weekly meeting to go over the bills and ensure they’re all being paid on time.
10. Decide on a limit for purchases that don’t require collaboration. Your spouse probably won’t mind if you stop on the way home from work and purchase a candy bar without a family meeting. But stop and buy a $20,000 bass boat and you might create a little friction.
Discussing your finances together while you’re still newlyweds can be an excellent way to avoid unnecessary drama. It might not be romantic, but it’s important. You can talk about it now or wait until later. Doing it now will be more enjoyable.