I’m too lazy to do an official count, but I think my wife and I attended at least seven weddings this summer. And no, we’re not professional wedding crashers. We’re just in that age range where our summer is marked by wedding after wedding.
“What do you like better? Christmas or wedding season? Yes, um…the answer would be, um…wedding season.” – Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers
Being newly-married ourselves, going to weddings is a blast. First off, it’s a reminder of how much fun our wedding was. But second, it also provides perspective on just how much we’ve grown in our relationship over these last two years.
When you get married, there are a lot of things you simply can’t prepare for. For example, who knew women take up 90 percent of available counter space in the bathroom? Lesson learned.
One of the biggest things that can create tension in a marriage is money. Many newlyweds enter their marriages with their own spending and saving habits. Once your paycheck becomes our paycheck, it’s a different ballgame. From personal experience, though, I can tell you that—if you commit to following these four money tips for newlyweds—you can help ensure that money will cause few issues for you and your spouse.
1. Don’t avoid the money talk.
Most people don’t like to talk about money. Think about how uncomfortable the average person gets when they visit with their boss about their salary. Yikes! I can think of a ton of other things I’d rather do than talk about money—and I work for a bank!
Having the money talk is, without question, one of the first things you should do as a married couple. As a team, you should form a plan, set goals, and make decisions together.
2. Build a budget. And, stick with it.
I know what you’re thinking. Duh. I already know this. I’m serious, though. When you’re single, you can get by without having a monthly budget. Although, I don’t recommend it. When it’s just you spending your money, your spending doesn’t really have an impact on anyone else. If you spend too much, you only have yourself to blame. But, when you’re married, your finances are dependent on one another.
So, make a budget. But, don’t just include the boring stuff. Be sure to include set amounts for fun and for savings. As a newly-married couple, you want to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, right? If not, then I’m afraid no amount of money advice from me is going to help your situation. Whether it’s going to restaurants during the week or going out on the weekends, allocate a certain amount each month for this purpose. You’ll have fun while being financially responsible. Welcome to the exciting world of adulthood!
3. Establish an emergency fund.
If you haven’t learned already, life is full of surprises, both good and bad. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for those unexpected situations is to establish an emergency fund to fall back on (for when your wife decides it’s time for a new sofa…and dining room table). Kidding aside, the sooner you establish an emergency fund (for legitimate emergencies), the less of a financial burden those surprises will be when, not if, they arise.
4. Don’t carry credit card debt!
Many people, especially those who have graduated from college in the past few years, have student loans and credit card debt. Once you get married, your debt becomes our debt, and debt can be a good thing when used correctly.
Credit cards have extremely high interest rates, and carrying a balance on these cards requires unnecessarily high interest payments. A better option is to get an unsecured loan from a bank to pay off the credit card balance. This will save you money with a significantly lower interest rate, give you a regular low monthly payment to account for in your budget, and it will also improve your credit score. If you are planning to buy a home now that you’re a married couple, working to improve your credit score is extremely important.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m not a licensed marriage counselor. But, I do know that—by implementing these four financial principles into your marriage—both your marriage and your future financial situation will be better off. So, start making great financial decisions today. You’ll be glad you did.
About the Author:
Mark Benning is a credit analyst and bank officer at Central National Bank. In addition to being a Baylor sports fanatic, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and attending Lorena High School football games, where his wife, Lindsay, teaches and serves as the cheerleading coordinator.