We have come far in our journey of financing for new couples; we are now entering the final steps of money management tips for couples. In pervious posts we have discussed some important financial issues that couples should have discussed and tasks that they should have completed. If you have missed the previous steps please follow the links above. This is the last stage for new couples, after completing the following tasks you will/should have a good the bases for your financial plan
1. Get Organized
Before we get into the fun stuff you need to get your finance organized and decide a system to keep things organized. Will you use personal finance software, if so which one? How will you keep receipts? Where will you keep your files and financial records? How will you organize them? If you are not sure where to start see organizing your finances for some tips and starting points. You need to come up with a system that you both agree on and can follow, do not make things more complicated than they have to be just keep it as simple and straightforward as possible.
2. Agree on Financial Goals
We have touched on setting financial goals in the first step already, but at this point you need to talk a little more in detail. By now not only should you have a good understanding of each other’s financial philosophies and goals, but you also should have discussed your familial goals. Short term and long term goals, do you rent and want to buy a home? How soon? Do you need new car(s)? What about vacations and retirement planning? Hopefully you both will have the same goals, but chances are you will not and hence you may have to compromise a little. [You can use this financial goals worksheet]
Yes, there is the B word again, budget! Budgets are great for some however don’t work for others, but I think it is vital for newlyweds to set a budget at least for a short while till they get the hang of things. Budgeting is always a great discussion in the personal finance world; although budgets may not always be needed there are some circumstances where a budget is vital. At early stages for newlyweds is one of those times, there are too many unknown factors and things can quickly get out of hand if you don’t set a budget early in the relationship. The other good thing about it is that it teaches both partners good spending habits early in the relationship.
4. Put it in Writing
Often you spend couple of hours going through all the finances and setting up a budget, but you fail to write things down somewhere. Remembering to remember when the insurance bill, the membership fees, your credit card bills is due and to remember account balances…your set budget… If you try to rely solely on your memory for these you are headed for trouble. There are number of personal finance software’s available to help you with these or at least use simple calendars and pencil and paper. Choose a method you both are comfortable with, but make sure you don’t just rely on your memory.
5. Track Expenses
This too can be up for debate, but keeping track of your expenses for the first few months is vital for newlyweds. As a married couple you will have different spending patterns than you did previously, you need to find out where you spend your hard earned dollars and if there is a way to save on those expenses. Your budget will not be perfect for the first little while; at least until you figure things out and that is where keeping track of your expenses will come in handy. Again you can use personal finance tools for these or just paper and pen, you can probably even keep track on your phone.
6. Schedule a Finance Meeting
So everything is set now after some discussion and paperwork you have your finances in order for now, so what’s next? Review, review and review. This part should continue for a very long time, you should take couple hours per month and review your finances. Look at your expenses and budget to asses if everything’s in line? Are you meeting your financial goals? Is your net worth increasing as it should? Where can you cut back and where are can you find additional income streams? This may seem like a long process, but it really shouldn’t be. If you have followed the steps and done things right at the beginning than all you’d need is maybe 2 hours per month. It may take longer at the early stages but as things fall in place, later on it will just be a short review. Review, Review, Review!
Congratulations! You should now be well on your way to building your family net worth and working towards your financial goals. Remember track, review and communication are key to success!
What tips do you have? Any personal experience you would like to share with other newlywed couples?