Marrying your sweetheart is a joyous time filled with myriad happy new beginnings. However, with this happiness comes several real-life financial and legal obligations. There are many things to think about and discuss with your betrothed – from how you’ll share money to how you’d like to retire. Take the time to discuss these things early, and in depth, so that financial woes don’t add unnecessary stress to your wedded bliss.
As a couple, identify your core values.
In addition to your life core values, it’s also important to discuss your financial core values with your partner. This should include addressing your spending habits, financial priorities, your concept of financial security and how you approach difficult financial decisions.
Decide whether or not to merge finances.
More than just the merging of your lives, marriage is a merging of assets. A key step in the process is to decide how you plan to share – or not share – money. Remember that all couples are different. What worked for your parents or best friend might not work for you. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s an agreement you both can uphold.
Don’t be afraid to talk about money.
Being open about money and finances with your partner is critical for a successful marriage. Financial discussions should be a natural and comfortable part of your married life. Check in with each other once a month to address any financial concerns you may have and remind each other of the financial goals you established as a couple.
Create a budget… and stick to it.
As a newly married individual, you’re probably still used to spending your money as you see fit. For most married couples, a new financial approach is required. If you’re now benefiting from dual incomes, you might feel inclined to double your spending. The fact is, you should be spending less and saving more. Review your expenses, create a monthly budget that includes saving, and do your best to stick with it.
Reduce (or eliminate) your consumer debt.
For most of us, this means credit cards. If you entered into your marriage with credit cards and debt, do what you can to resolve those balances first. While it’s in your best credit interest to keep your oldest accounts open, consider closing the majority of your accounts to enhance your credit report.
Start saving… now!
Whether you’re putting aside money for your emergency fund, a new home, a new baby or retirement, it’s critical to your financial stability to establish a safety net. When it comes to establishing a savings plan, the key is to start early and remain diligent. Automatic savings transfers can help with this process.
Once you’ve tied the knot, and especially once you’ve decided to start a family, a will is a must for every couple. Not only does a will let you dictate what happens to your assets and property should you die, it also enables you to specify a guardian for your (future) children.