How To Plan Your Financial Life as Newlyweds
Congrats! You made it through your big day and are now ready to embark on a new chapter in your lives. You’ll find that many aspects of your life will blend together once you’re married, including your finances.
During this time, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with each other regarding your money. Having the “money talk” can be uncomfortable at first, but it will help strengthen your relationship and avoid any miscommunication down the road.
If you haven’t discussed these topics before tying the knot, here are five financial factors to talk through with your spouse:
- Personal Goals
Setting financial goals as a couple is important as it creates mutual understanding and helps you keep a pulse on your spending. Whether you’re planning to take vacations, purchase a home, or retire early, you should work together to set both long and short term goals that are financially feasible.
Make sure you set actionable goals that are attached to both a timeline and monetary value. For example, you could aim to put a specific percentage of your income into retirement savings year-over-year or commit to paying off a specific amount of your student loan debt each month. Having these goals will help guide your financial decisions and ensure you’re both on the same page.
- Bank Accounts
One of your first conversations should be around whether you’d like to merge bank accounts or keep them separate. A joint bank account should be used for shared household expenses, such as mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries. Whereas separate accounts should be reserved for personal expenses.
Your financial goals should dictate which types of accounts you’d like to keep. For instance, if your spending habits differ, or you’re in different financial positions, you may want to keep separate accounts, which allow both partners to manage their money how they please. Alternatively, you could have both joint and separate accounts to preserve some financial freedom while also building up a shared account.
- Monthly Budget
Establishing a monthly budget should be one of your top priorities after marriage.
Taking time to evaluate your monthly expenses will help you better understand where your money is going and give you an idea of how much extra cash you’ll have to spend on non-essentials like date nights, going out to eat, and travel.
Start by identifying your sources of income and listing out any recurring expenses. Be sure to include savings in this number, as this tends to be an afterthought for most couples. That way, you’ll ensure you’re putting money aside for emergencies or future investments. Then, use these estimates to set spending limits so you can stay on top of your financial goals.
- Moving In
After getting married, a common next step for newlyweds is to move in and buy a home together. Buying a home is a huge financial undertaking that can be just as stressful as it is exciting, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the home buying process, factor in your long term goals (e.g. family, travel plans, location), and research your financing options before making any final decisions.
If you or your spouse have a poor or “young” credit history, buying a home may seem unfeasible. However, there are still ways you can finance a new home together. For instance, you could participate in a first-time home buyer program or apply for loans that are geared toward couples who are unable to secure a home with a conventional loan. Low down-payment options like FHA loans are easier to qualify for and could save you money on your investment which could be helpful, especially after putting money into your wedding.
- Outstanding Debt
Once you’re married, you may choose to take on some of your spouses’ debt as well as your own, which is why you should be transparent about your debts (ideally before the wedding), so your partner isn’t blindsided later on. Remember, if you open any joint credit lines, you’ll also be liable for any charges to those accounts.
Create a list of any open accounts and amounts owed, and work together to establish a repayment plan that’s financially feasible for both partners. Make sure you understand which debts are solely your responsibility versus the ones you share. Set up auto payments whenever possible and make sure you have a plan in place so you don’t fall behind on payments.
Merging your finances after marriage is a big step. By communicating with your partner and setting financial goals together, you’ll set yourself up for years of financial wedded bliss!
If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville/ Lynchburg Va, we can help with your wedding planning and ideas.