Five Essential Finance Tips for Newlyweds

Now that you're newly married, it's a good idea to have a frank talk about your finances. Follow these steps to get the money conversation going—and cash in on a happier future.

3. Lay Debts out on the Table

If you haven't fessed up about your former credit-card habit, now's the time to come clean. Although your spouse isn't responsible for those shopping sprees, they can drag down your credit score as a couple. So make a plan: Decide whether you're going to tackle that debt individually or together. If the interest rate is high—more than 10 percent—joining forces is a smart move. "One client slashed her payment plan from 18 years to 18 months just by putting down an additional $200 a month," says Andi Wrenn, a financial counselor in Arlington, Virginia. "In the end, she saved thousands and thousands of dollars in interest fees." Not sure how to start chipping away? See a financial pro, who can help you weigh options and offer smart strategies. To find a certified planner, head to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

While you're discussing details, resist the temptation to feel guilty or angry about having debt in the relationship. "Playing the blame game is destructive," says Tessina. "It eats away at trust and creates a sense of resentment." Instead, she says, concentrate on the financially free future that you're creating together.

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