Financial Planning for Regular Folks
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Newlyweds and Money – Financial Essentials

 

 

 

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Newlyweds and Money – Essential Financial Information as You Begin Your Life Together

Newlyweds and money don’t always necessarily mix well or easily … especially at the onset of the marriage.

Getting married is an important step in your life. Money and financial matters might be the furthest things from your mind right now, but this topic is crucial to a bright and secure future together.

Talking about money early in a marriage is important because it allows you to get started on the right track and it will help you avoid conflicts and stress in the years to come. Making money talks a habit will make your family stronger and help you prepare for any kind of crisis that could arise in the future.

Talking about finances is also important in order to achieve some goals as a couple, such as starting a family or buying a house.

 

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.
 
– Ayn Rand

 

newlyweds and money - cover image

Setting Goals Together

Your goals and priorities probably changed when you got married. Discussing long-term goals is important because these goals will help you pick a general direction for your life and finances. You might set some long-term goals such as buying a home, having children, or maybe launching a family business.

A lot of young couples have some clear goals for the long-term but fail to talk about short-term goals. The larger picture, which probably includes buying a home and starting a family, is important, but there are some priorities you can set for the more immediate future that support your long-term goals and help make them possible.

Consider these important short-term goals and priorities:

1. Save money for emergencies.

An emergency fund will ensure that you have money to cover insurance deductibles and other emergencies. Create a joint savings account and put a portion of your paychecks aside every month.

2. Think about upgrading your insurance.

You might find that you need more extensive health insurance coverage before you have a baby. Getting married also changes your needs for auto or home insurance.

3. Buy a life insurance policy.

This is especially important if one spouse provides for the other. A lot of young couples feel that life insurance is not a priority, but now is the perfect time to secure a low rate.

4. Manage your debt.

Do you have student loans or other debts? Getting married means that your debts are now combined. It’s important to discuss how much money you owe and how the payments will be made.

5. Talk about living arrangements.

If you’ve been living together for a while, discussing living arrangements isn’t necessary. However, if you’re moving in together for the first time, finding an affordable place will definitely be a priority.

6. Discuss your career goals.

Talking about your career goals early in your marriage will give you an idea of the kind of income you can expect to earn. You can make plans together for both of you to further your careers or take career breaks as needed.

7. Your credit is another crucial matter.

Check your credit reports and plan how you can raise your credit scores together.

 

Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.
 
– James W. Frick

 

Merging Your Finances

How do you and your spouse want to combine your finances? Do you want to maintain some separate accounts? Even though you’re married now, there are many variations of combined and separate accounts that you could choose from.

Consider these points together:

1. Open a joint checking and savings account.

This will make managing your finances easier and having joint bank accounts is a good way to start communicating more about money matters. You can still have separate accounts, too, but the joint accounts will provide an opportune way to handle joint expenses.

2. Figure out how getting married will affect your taxes.

You have the option of filing jointly or separately. Filing separately sometimes makes sense, for example, when a spouse’s tax return can be confiscated to cover child support payments or other obligations.

3. Add your spouse’s name to your insurance policies, or purchase new coverage together.

You should be able to get a better rate as a married couple.

4. Talk about your debt.

Getting married means that you become responsible for some of your spouse’s debt, such as student loans. Using your joint account to make payments makes sense once you both become responsible for this type of debt.

5. Consider getting a joint credit card.

You can also add your spouse on an existing credit line.

6. Add your spouse as a beneficiary.

If you have a will, a life insurance, or any other similar financial product, you may want to change your beneficiary designations or add your spouse as a beneficiary.

7. Talk about your lifestyle.

Now that your finances are merged, it’s important to figure out a budget and adopt a lifestyle that corresponds to what you can afford.

 

A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.
 
– Andre Maurois

 

What About Your Credit?

Most young couples haven’t had the time to work on raising their credit scores, might have limited credit history, or might have adopted some bad habits when it comes to using credit cards or paying bills on time. Raising your credit score will make obtaining financing for your big projects, like getting a house, easier.

Getting married doesn’t mean that your credit histories merge. Since a credit score is tied to an individual’s social security number, you and your spouse will have separate scores and credit histories. The best way to raise both credit scores is to open a joint credit account.

However, joint credit accounts are not always easy to get, since most credit card companies will not approve you unless you meet some requirements. Opening a joint credit line could be a goal for the long-term.

Meanwhile, you can add your spouse to an existing credit line as an authorized user. The spouse who is added as an authorized user isn’t legally responsible for the debt, but the history on this credit line will impact their credit score. So a credit line with a history of late payments could have a negative impact on the credit score of the authorized user.

Some couples make the mistake of opening all their credit lines in one spouse’s name. These credit lines will help only one spouse build their credit history and improve their credit score as long as they make payments on time and carry a reasonable balance from one month to the next.

It might be best to open two different credit lines so that both spouses can build a positive credit history. Having two strong credit scores will definitely make things easier for you once you need to finance a large purchase like a new car or a home.

Communication is crucial when it comes to managing credit and debt. Talk to your spouse about any credit lines and debts that exist prior to the marriage, be upfront about how much you charge to your credit cards, and agree on how the monthly payments will be made.

 

Frugality includes all the other virtues.
 
– Cicero

 

Create a Budget

Newlyweds often face the same issues regarding budgeting. For starters, a lot of couples spend too much on their wedding, which can lead to some difficulties as they begin their life together while having to pay for these expenses.

The other common issue is that talking about money and budgeting without fighting is not always easy. One spouse might be spending too much or not taking responsibility for helping out with paying bills.

Regardless of your situation, remember that communication is very important and follow these steps to create a budget that works for you:

1. Figure out how much you’re earning as a couple and list your sources of income.

Ask yourselves how your income is likely to change in the near future and plan accordingly.

2. Assess your recurring and flexible expenses.

Make a list of all the bills you have to pay on a monthly basis and calculate how much you usually spend on flexible expenses such as groceries and entertainment.

3. Establish financial priorities.

Putting some money aside for an emergency fund or making your student loan payments are examples of priorities you might want to set.

4. Talk about impulse spending.

It’s very easy to get carried away and overspend on fun activities and entertainment. Establish a weekly budget for your activities and look for inexpensive things to do together to save money.

5. Review your budget regularly.

Schedule weekly or monthly money talks to go over your budget and make improvements.

6. Set some goals as a couple and some individual goals as well.

For instance, one spouse might want to work on reducing their impulse spending while another might have a challenge with paying bills on time.

7. Find ways to cut down on your expenses.

You might want to think about switching to a vehicle that is more affordable in terms of insurance and gas, transferring your credit card balance to a more affordable one, cooking more meals at home, or making other changes to your lifestyle.

8. Saving should be an important part of your budget.

Both an emergency fund and long-term savings are important.

Sticking to your budget will be easier if you put it in writing or use an app or another tool to track your spending and set reminders to pay bills. Find a way to stay on the right track and remember that you’ll usually enjoy better results when both spouses are involved in the budget creation process and in keeping track of expenses.

 

The person who doesn’t know where his next dollar is coming from usually doesn’t know where his last dollar went.
 
– Unknown

 

Essential Money Discussions

Getting married is the first of many important steps you will take together. When you plan together, it makes it easier to be financially stable in the future and able to achieve your goals together.

Talking about budgeting is a great start, but there are also other important money topics:

1. Establish a budget for your wedding and honeymoon.

Ask for help from your families, avoid overspending on things you don’t really need, and ask for gifts that will help you save money if you decide to create a registry.

2. Which items will you purchase for your new place if you’re just moving in together?

Establish a budget for appliances, furniture, and other items you might need.

3. Are you thinking about having children soon?

Raising a baby is easier if you already have some money put aside for medical bills, diapers, baby clothes, and other baby supplies.

4. Credit cards.

Agree on what credit cards will be used for and where the money for credit card payments will come from.

5. Do you wish to purchase a house soon?

Make a plan to save for your down payment.

6. Make plans for retirement.

Talking about retiring can seem premature, but making plans now makes sense since you will have plenty of time to save and make your money work for you.

7. Investments.

Investing your money means taking risks, but this is the best way to improve your financial situation over time. Agree on the kind of investments you’re both comfortable with and plan a workable investing schedule.

8. Borrowing money is another important topic.

Ask yourselves under which circumstances you would consider borrowing money and how you would manage this debt.

 

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.
 
– Ben Franklin

 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

You might feel that you know enough about money and how to manage it as a couple, but this doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. In fact, young couples tend to make the same mistakes.

Being aware of these common mistakes will help you avoid stress and achieve your goals:

1. Avoiding money discussions before you get married.

It’s important to know about each other’s spending and saving habits if you’re planning a life together. Equally important are discussions about your financial goals, both individually and as a couple.

2. Not talking about money once you’re married.

A lot of couples avoid the topic altogether because they cannot talk about money without arguing, which makes adopting good financial habits difficult.

3. Expecting things to remain the same after your get married.

Among other things, getting married also means you might become responsible for some of your spouse’s debts or that you’ll have a common budget to plan together.

4. A lot of young couples feel that the next milestone in their lives is still far away.

The next milestone, such as having a child or buying a home, will come a lot faster than you think and making plans for the future will help you prepare for these milestones.

5. Hiding financial information, especially about debt.

Talking openly about your finances will enable you to find solutions together for any challenges and make concrete plans to deal wisely and effectively with any situation.

6. Overspending on your wedding.

It’s normal to want to celebrate this event, but sticking to a budget will help you enjoy a more secure start together.

7. Failing to acknowledge money challenges.

You might be tempted to avoid bringing up an issue such as your spouse’s overspending in order to avoid a fight. However, challenges like debt or overspending only become worse if you ignore them.

8. Not understanding or acknowledging your differences.

Money is perceived differently from one culture or background to another. There might be some differences in how you spend money, how you feel about handling financial issues, and expectations for your lifestyle.

9. Trying too hard to share responsibilities equally.

Each couple has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to find a way to manage your finances that works for you, even if the result isn’t a 50/50 partnership.

10. Assuming that you can manage all your financial challenges yourself.

If you are in over your head, seek help from relatives, friends, or a financial advisor.

 

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.
 
– Franz Schubert

 

Conclusion

Starting a life together is a very exciting time! Don’t let bad financial habits or a lack of knowledge regarding money get in the way of your dreams.

Be proactive! Adopt positive financial habits and take responsibility as a couple for your financial situation. Planning for a bright financial future together will benefit you for the rest of your life.

 
 

 

 
 
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