This series was inspired by the recent marriage in our family. I organized some information with my brother in law and new sister in law in mind. If you find these tips to be useful, please share them.
Congratulations on getting married. I hope you have a happy and long one. One of the biggest reasons marriages break down, though, is money. Remember your marriage is more important than money. Use money as a way to bring you two closer, not drive you apart.
If you’re looking to have a solid financial foundation with your marriage, here are practical steps you should start with right away.
Create a list of goals you wish to achieve in 1, 5, and 10 years. You two need to think about what you value. Talk about some financial and personal goals you’d like to achieve.
- Do you want to eventually own a house in the country or do you want a condo in the city?
- Do you like to have some gadgets or do you want to collect cars?
- Does either one of you want to start a business?
- Do you guys want kids down the road?
Asking these questions can allow you to build something together instead of cobbling a plan as you go. It can save you some headaches. Learn about each of your money personalities and talk about the differences up front.
Share with each other a list of your debts and assets. You need to have a clear idea of what your starting point is to have a plan as a couple. Don’t lie about the amount of debt you have, if you’re on the same page you can both work down on paying down your debt.
Create a budget or spending plan together. Your first couple of times doing a budget together will be wrong. All couples have to go through this as they are merging their money, bills, and goals. My personal tip is to add 15% to your budget for things like car repairs, rental insurance, etc. Both of you should have a say on where the money goes.
Open a joint account together. Our main accounts are joint accounts and we both have access to the individual accounts in case of emergencies. I know some couple have separate accounts, but having some money pooled together encourages you to talk. consider having a joint savings account for some mutual goals, like a house down payment. I also recommend saving up for at least an annual vacation for the two of you. It doesn’t have to be grand or exotic, you just want to get away from it all and spend time together.
Make paying off debt a priority. Look again at your spending plan and see how much money each month goes towards debt. If you can eliminate that, you can spend that money instead on your dreams and goals. Use either a debt snowflake, snowball, or avalanche to work your way to being debt free.
Build an emergency fund. Start small and tuck away one months’ expenses and then automate a small deposit into your savings while you eliminate your high interest debt.understand that marriage, just like life, has some unexpected events. An emergency fund can relieve a lot of stress and tension in your relationship.
Rent an affordable apartment. Please try to keep your rent as reasonable as possible. If you are in a marriage with a lot of debt already, having a modest amount for rent can be a huge way for you to have money to pay down debt. You can always upgrade later, but it hard to downgrade. We had a very small first apartment (ask our friends), but we were able to pay off the car loan faster and later we upgraded to a more spacious place.
Drive used cars. I wish I didn’t have that car loan when we first got married. It was an annoying monthly bill that slowed us down on building our savings. Owning a car also means car insurance, gasoline, and maintenance bills. If you have a car that is relatively dependable and you own it, that’s a great win. If you live in a city with a good transportation system, then use it.
Set up free online bill pay with your bank. Most banks and credit unions offer this money and time saving feature. Spend an hour setting up your free online bill pay with your bills, account numbers, due dates, and amounts, and you’ll only need a few minutes a month to keep it up. I’ll have another post just on that soon.
Do you have any stories about what worked and what didn’t work with you? Do you have any ideas on future posts on the series?
- Related Blogs on Marriage and Money: Financial Game Plan