Money and Marriage: What Newlyweds Should Know
You’re looking forward to a long, happy marriage with your betrothed. However, before you say your “I do’s” you might want to have a heart-to-heart talk about money and how you’ll manage your finances. Disagreements on money-related issues are a common challenge that married couples face. Here are some steps you can take so money issues don’t become marriage issues.
Discuss Your Current Financial Situation
When you get married, you combine your assets as well as your debts. You’ll need to discuss:
- School loans.
- Auto loans.
- Credit cards.
- Credit history.
- Checking accounts.
- Savings accounts.
Figure out where you and your partner are financially, then you can work on setting mutual goals.
You’ll also want to discuss how you’ll handle credit cards and other consumer debt. The average amount of household credit card debt was $7,849 in 2020, according to WalletHub. That may not sound like much, but credit card debt can quickly spiral out of control due to high interest rates. Talk with your partner about existing credit card debt and create a spending plan to make sure the both of you aren’t accruing too much new debt without paying off your previous balances first.
Set Up a Budget
Write down all your monthly expenses and figure out who is responsible for what. Some couples split everything right down the middle, and some have a joint account for expenses and then individual accounts for spending money. If you haven’t purchased a home yet, figure out what you can afford. Work together to create a plan that’s realistic and comfortable for both your incomes.
Read our article, How to Budget, for more budgeting tips.
Set Financial Goals
Hopefully after you’ve set up your budget, you’ll have some money left over. What are your goals? Ask yourselves some questions:
- Does either of you want to go back to school?
- When do you anticipate retirement? It’s never too early to plan for retirement.
- Do you plan on purchasing a larger house or a vacation home?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- How much do you want to invest?
- Do you want to become debt free?
These may be tough questions to ask, but if you discuss these things now, you’ll have fewer conflicts down the road. Consider both short-term goals, such as a vacation, and long-term goals like retirement.
Some people are savers and some people are spenders. Differing money personalities can lead to disagreement unless you have the same financial habits. Spenders and savers often disagree on how money should be spent, and two spenders may find themselves going over budget. Make sure to discuss your spending habits and your feelings about money. The key word is compromise. Each of you should have a bit of spending money each month. Spenders can indulge and savers can put theirs away in an interest-earning account. Take the time to communicate with your partner so you’ll be able to enjoy financial security throughout your lives.
Some people have a high tolerance for risk and other people just don’t. Generally, diversifying your financial portfolio is a good strategy to reduce risk. That way, you’ll have money in various investments, and if one drops in value, the others will hopefully either stay steady or earn money. Discuss different investment strategies such as:
It may help to consult a financial advisor to figure all of this out. You can also ask them about the impact of taxes on your investment portfolio and different things to consider when choosing a tax filing status. A financial advisor can take your goals into account and help you plan how to reach them.
Figure Out Insurance
If you both work full-time, one of your employers probably offers a better deal on health insurance than the other. You may be able to save money or get better coverage if one of you enrolls under spousal coverage in the better plan. Many employers also offer other types of insurance, such as life insurance and disability insurance. Check to see what each employer offers and cancel anything redundant.
If you both have cars, switching to the same auto insurance company for both policies may save you some money. If you plan on having children, you may want to consider life insurance as well. Term life insurance can offer financial security at an affordable price, depending on your health and insurability. Even if you don’t plan on having children, getting life insurance may be a good idea to cover a mortgage or other joint debts.
Create a Will
No one likes to think about what happens when they die. However, if you die without a will, your estate will be intestate and must go through probate, which can cause a lot of uncertainty and financial snares. Even if you already have a will, you should update it after you get married. If you don’t have one, make one now. There are forms and online services that can help you create a will. Or you can sign a will with an estate attorney.
Reevaluate Your Finances Every Year, and at Every Milestone
Married couples should commit to revising their budgets and goals at least once a year. Your financial situation may change due to:
- Salary increases.
It’s a good idea to talk about money every so often, beyond paying bills and buying groceries. It will help keep the two of you aligned and on the same path. Also, talking about money with a spouse can increase relationship satisfaction. If you can talk about money you can talk about anything!