When two people get married, they usually vow to be by each other “for richer and for poorer.” At the start of the marriage, it’s usually the latter. Here are five financial tips that all newlyweds should follow.
1. Start the Conversation
Ideally, you would have talked extensively about expenses before you got married. If you didn’t, though, now is the time to have the conversation. Go over your accounts and figure out how much debt the two of you carry. Remember, now that you’re married, you’re both responsible for the debt! Figure out how money will be handled and who will be handling it. Decide when you need to discuss purchases ahead of time and when you don’t have to. For example, do you want to talk about any purchase that’s going to be over $100?
2. Start an Emergency Fund
Your emergency fund should be your top priority, even if you both have debt. This money will be there if something unexpected happens, like if one of you loses your job, there’s a natural disaster or someone gets sick. Your goal should be to have six month’s worth of expenses saved in your emergency fund.
3. Don’t Upgrade Your Lifestyle…Yet
Getting married is costly, even if you had some help with the bills from your parents. You may be paying for a new home, the wedding, your honeymoon or all three. This is not the time to start living the fantasy life you’ve been dreaming of. Yes, you’re going to save money now that you’ve combined your lives, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of your extra money to live above your means.
4. Meet Regularly About Money
Every week, two weeks or month, sit down with each other to hold a money meeting. Talk about how your budget looks and anything else money-related. This is the time to discuss your goals, get “permission” for large purchases and examine where you may be able to cut back.
5. Save for Retirement
It’s really never too early to start saving for retirement. Living a long life together means being able to support that life when both of you are retired. If your company offers a 401k plan, start contributing to it. A lot of companies will match a percentage of your contributions, which is basically like getting free money. If either of you have a Roth IRA, it’s a good idea to contribute the maximum amount possible every year. If you don’t have a lot of money to spare, even a measly $50 per month is something. Putting anything away for retirement now will make your life easier later.