Money management in a marriage is not about one person carrying the ball for the couple. Both husband and wife need to take part in decision-making, budgeting, and bill-paying.
The best thing about managing money together is that it gives you the ability to decide what you want together and then save for that goal together. But to properly work as a team, you must have the same goals in mind. Work together to come up with and find ways to accomplish those goals.
The following are 5 important tips to do and consider as you prepare to mix finances in a new marriage.
1. Talk About It
It’s best to do this before you get married. If not, start discussing finances as soon as possible after you’ve tied the knot. For some couples, this can be one of the hardest steps. Perhaps you’ve made some poor decisions and you’re worried about being judged by your partner. Either way, it’s better to have it all out in the open.
Go over the accounts you have and how much debt you carry. List all mortgages, student loans, car loans, and other liabilities. Overall, make sure each person has a good understanding of where you stand financially. You’ll also want to be clear on how you expect money to be handled moving forward.
2. Write Down Goals
After you have determined your baseline financial status, discuss your long-term goals and write them down. For example, do you plan to retire at a certain age? How much do you want/need to save for a down payment on a home? How much should you save to start a family? What about your future children’s college expenses?
If you write down your goals down and review them periodically, you’ll have a better chance at meeting those goals.
3. Build an Emergency Fund
If you don’t already have one, an emergency fund should be a priority. Plan to save about six months’ worth of household expenses in case of an emergency that renders you or your spouse unable to work.
4. Save for Retirement
Discuss when and how you want to retire, and then determine what it will take to get there. If you work for a company that offers a 401k plan, put in the maximum amount allowed to take advantage of any company matching, if possible. Even if you can contribute just a little a month, get started as soon as possible. Because of compounding interest, time is as important as money when it comes to building a retirement fund.
5. Determine the Level of Risk You are Comfortable with as a Couple
If you are someone who likes to take on risk, and your spouse is risk-adverse, problems may arise. Discuss this with your spouse, and try to find some middle ground when it comes to risk. Risk-taking will need to be a compromise.