Money talk is probably the last thing on your mind right after you get back from your honeymoon.
You might be thinking – you just got back from a romantic getaway with your spouse after your successful wedding that’s thoughtfully planned and splurged on. You’re not even done unboxing all of your wedding gifts. And now you’re going to talk about financial paperwork?
Well, sorry to say, but it’s got to be done. After all, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. Financial issues, no matter how daunting, should be discussed before they become bigger and more damaging in the relationship.
A blissful marriage isn’t measured on the number of date nights, romantic vacations, and lavish anniversary gifts. Couples who face financial hurdles together and overcome them together come out stronger than ever.
So if you’re ready to do some daunting financial tasks after the wedding, here are top 6 things you should do as a couple.
Have you decided to have a joint banking account and merge all of your finances for household spending? Or you want to keep your personal account? Or perhaps do both by having a shared account and a separate account for personal spending at the same time?
Whatever that is, make sure you’re both on the same track about this matter and do all the paperwork together.
Once you’re married, you should have each other’s names on all of your accounts. It’s also important to change your beneficiary information for those accounts: If it’s your first marriage your beneficiaries are likely your parents. If you’ve been married before, it’d be your ex.
Make sure to update it ASAP to avoid bigger and more expensive problems should anything bad happen to you.
“Til death do us part” or “Til debt do us part”?
Debt should be openly discussed and addressed as early as possible to avoid it to cause further damage to the relationship.
Get out the paperwork, provide copies of your own credit reports, look for the real bottom line, and deal with it. Debt catches up eventually – whether it’s the tax collector, your university, or creditor. One day, the terrifying details of the past will come creeping out when you’re trying to get a mortgage and other loans.
Not all money talk is bad. Some prudent men and women enter marriage with trust funds, investment accounts, real estate properties, and other significant assets. Your spouse should know what you have and what you can share unless you have a prenuptial agreement that excludes the spouse from any benefit. Again, beneficiary names should be updated.
Now that you’re married, looking at your paychecks and other income sources is just a right thing to do. You’re a team here, remember?
It’s crucial to determine your combined monthly income and how it’ll affect your spending and savings.
Make a detailed budget out of the combined list of all your monthly expenses: housing, utilities, internet, cable, phone, groceries, car payments, leisure, and other routine costs. Plan for payments on debts too. Last but not least, make sure to have a budget for unexpected expenses that may come up, like home repair and medical bills.
Odds are that, you’ve splurged on your wedding and your honeymoon. YYour first year together is the perfect time to recoup those losses and continue saving up for the future.
Don’t forget to feed your savings account – together. We can all agree that having a financial cushion for emergencies and retirement is a must.
You can fuel your savings by finding ways to be frugal. You may limit nights out and put your focus on groceries and rent. Be wise when going on vacations. Set limits for internet, cable, and electricity use. It’s more fun to celebrate your first year of marriage without overindulging.
Communication is key to a successful marriage, especially in terms of money. Couples who discuss money matters, set financial goals and help each other achieve them tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t.
Take the time to sit down with your spouse to talk about money – your short-term and long-term goals and your plans to make these goals a reality. Discuss where you want to be in five years. Are you planning to build a business? Will you buy stocks or other investment vehicles? Will one or both of you work abroad? Do you have a plan to level up on your career?
Talk about money handling practices and expectations. Are you guilty of poor spending habits? Do you plan to quit certain expensive vices? How often do you plan to go on vacations?
Talk about future expenses that will eventually arrive, including children’s education, buying your first home, your first car, and the emergency and retirement funds.
I know these things may be too much to talk about, especially if you’re just starting your life together. However, it’s great to be open about these things and to know that you and your partner are on the same track.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for The Relationship Room, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships