How to Find Financial Success – Practical Advice for Recently Married Couples
Managing money can be a difficult challenge to many people; everyone has a different approach and handles money differently. When two people join together in marriage they are also agreeing to share their money, in one form or another. It is essential to work through the following guidelines to ensure a successful financial union:
Talk about finances
This is probably the most difficult step for most couples. Everyone makes mistakes and one of you may be particularly worried about disclosing your debts or financial mismanagement to your partner. You may worry about being judged by your partner, but it's such an essential step to building your life together. Each of you should share your income, expenses and debts; along with any assets you have. Then you decide, as a couple, the best way for you to handle money together in the future.
Money management in a marriage is fundamental. If you don’t talk about money, conflict may arise. Clear the air from the very beginning and find a way to reach common ground. You're in this together and starting a true partnership, so there’s no reason to feel shame if your spouse makes more or less money than you. As long as you both agree to tackle things together, everything will work out fine.
Acknowledge the importance of a joint account
It is likely that you will need at least one joint account for your finances. However, you must decide whether you will pool all of your funds or keep separate accounts for personal spending. You should also decide how you will deal with the monthly bills– who will pay them and whose account they will come out of. In a new marriage, a joint account can be tricky. What happens if one of the spouses spends more money than the other? The solution here is to make an agreement and openly communicate with each other to find the best way to make a joint account work for both of you.
Focus your attention on emergency funds
Throughout your marriage there may be occasions when something goes wrong, breaks or one of you is unable to work. It is best to have at least six months worth of funds saved as a reserve. You and your partner should discuss the best way of saving an emergency fund and once you have created a plan, stick to it! It may take a bit of sacrifice on your parts as you work to reach your emergency savings goal, but knowing you're financially prepared should something arise makes all the hard work totally worth it.
It is also imperative to discuss and create a plan for the future. You need to devise a way of saving for retirement and agree on an age at which you would like to retire. Everybody wants to retire at some point and it is essential to plan your retirement as much as possible now. If your company offers a retirement plan and will match your contributions you should join as soon as possible; they are giving you money! It doesn’t matter how small your initial contribution is, compound interest can turn even a small amount into a large sum of money. Of course, regular review of your finances will also ensure you contribute more whenever you can.
Talk with your spouse about risks
If one half of a couple loves taking risks and spending more than they can comfortably afford, whilst the other half prefers to play it safe, you are likely going to end up with huge problems. It is essential to decide right at the start of your marriage how to ensure that both parties are happy and comfortable with the level of risk they are exposed to.
Most married couples have some form of debt and this can become a chain around your necks. It is essential to work out a plan that will allow you to become debt free as soon as possible. Once you are out of debt you should avoid borrowing money unless it is for a real estate purchase; your home. You will be happier and healthy without the constant worry that debt can bring.
Be a team!
It is essential to approach your finances as a team and work out an approach that works for both of you. Your goals must be shared so that both parts of the team can work towards the same goal and support each other along the path. It will also make it much easier to deal with any issues that arise along life’s journey. Marriage and finance often don’t fit in the same sentence. If you want to live happily ever after, talk about money from the very beginning. This will save you a lot of fights along the course of your marriage.
Check in regularly.
Finally, it is essential to review your financial plans regularly. If you do not you may find yourself in the same position in five years when you could have been significantly better off and closer to your dreams. Without reviewing your finances you are likely to fritter away any extra income instead of saving for your future.
I hope these tips help you in your journey of marriage and finance.