You’re in it together. So are your finances. Put your marriage on solid financial footing with these tips.
There are more benefits to marriage than new dishes and a food processor. Getting hitched can also be a powerful wealth-building tool.
The numbers don’t lie. In virtually every indicator of economic well-being, married adults do better than their non-married peers.
But the process of combining incomes, bank accounts and spending priorities also brings its challenges. It’s just human nature. From our terrible twos on, most of us divide our world neatly into “yours” and “mine.” But, along with the nuptials comes the decidedly foreign concept of “ours.” The following tips will help you ease into this brave new world of shared finances.
Deal with debt
Either you or your spouse may drag some debt down the aisle on your wedding day. Make tackling that ball and chain one of your first priorities as a couple. Consider consolidating student loans to freeze the interest rate. Then eliminate duplicate credit cards and start paying down the highest-interest debt first.
Find your financial personality
Different approaches to money are a classic cause of marital stress. But opposing financial personalities can complement each another. Just communicate your expectations, establish ground rules for making financial decisions and get expert help if you need it.
Get a grip
Accept the fact that you may need to drive that clunker for a while longer. If you longingly look at the financial stability your parents enjoy, remember it probably took them a lifetime to achieve it. Some day, you’ll look back fondly on how you pulled through those early financial challenges together.
Divide and conquer
Setting up a joint bank account is a great way to get out of the “my money” mentality. Open up an additional online checking account for shared expenses. However, if the thought of sharing an account gives you an itch, consider stashing equal amounts into joint checking and savings accounts to cover basic household expenses. You can divvy up what’s left after bills and savings for separate “allowance” accounts that give each of you some money of your own. If one earns substantially more than the other, consider contributing a proportional percentage toward expenses.
Facing financial challenges together is the first step toward building real wealth as a couple.