Once you've walked down the aisle and are headed straight for newlywed bliss, you'll begin to feel a sudden shift in certain aspects of daily life. One topic that undoubtedly changes is your finances. No longer are you a party of one, but one half of a married couple, which means the two of you are in this together. No matter how you and your new spouse decide to tackle the issue of money, here are some tips to help make the process a bit easier.
1. Be Prepared
As newlyweds, chances are you've had a few discussions about finances prior to your walk down the aisle. If not, this is the time. You shouldn't wait until potential issues arise to have a "state of our finances" discussion, and it should be just that — a discussion. Find a place that you feel comfortable as a couple in regards to income, spending and budget. Whether you opt for the "what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours" philosophy, go "halfsies" or keep everything separate is entirely up to you, but you need to be prepared to enter your marriage strong and united — financially and otherwise.
2. Budget Carefully
Budgeting for a shared household, two incomes and double the expenses can be a doozy, but it's worth every minute it takes to develop a comprehensive budget. Factor in the larger, more significant expenses first but don't forget unexpected expenses too, like doctor's visits, car repairs and other unpleasant but necessary bills. Don't forget to account for payment due dates and interest accrual in your calculations, and consider planning for direct deposits to make the process a bit easier. While it may seem like (and it is) serious business, be sure to allow for some fun spending too, like date nights. If it becomes overwhelming or a source of tension, professional financial advisors can certainly be a big help.
3. Consider Merging Banks
Many couples want to still keep separate checking or savings accounts for personal spending, and that's great! One way to make this a bit easier is if you decide to keep all your money with one bank. Putting all your money within the same establishment makes for easier payments, transactions and transfers should the need arise. Why not make it easier on yourself?
4. Look for Spending Cuts
One of the many perks of marriage is that at times it allows for spending cuts. If you both have had your own Netflix accounts, you can ditch one now for a household membership instead. Many gyms, monthly subscriptions and other expenses can merge, which will add up to savings at the end of each month. Additionally, if you both pay separate premiums for health, car or homeowner insurance, you should look into combining policies now that you're married. Potentially lower rates will only help you in the long run.
5. Share Savings Goals
Determine exactly what your saving goals are and each spouse's responsibility to contribute towards that goal. Whether your aiming to have six month's expenses saved in an account, aggressively contribute towards retirement or stash enough cash aside for a Euro-trip, both you and your spouse should be aware of the goal and agree on a timeframe, as well as contributions.
6. Make a Communication Plan
Do you need to know when one another makes a large purchase? What about something under $100? Who will do the grocery shopping? Which spouse is responsible for keeping and organizing financial paperwork? These are all questions that may not arise early on in wedded bliss, but should. By clearly establishing expectations and roles for financial communication you can avoid any arguments, disagreements and overall stress as your marriage progresses.