The flurry of activity surrounding your wedding can lull you into fantasy-land, until you come back from the honeymoon and your crash land into reality-ville. And what comes in reality-ville? Bills, money (or lack thereof) and saving. Even the happiest couples can break down over money woes - Utah State University researcher Jeffrey Dew found that couples who fight at least once a week about money are 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who disagree about money a couple of times a month.
Scary, huh? You don't want to jinx your marriage before it really starts, so it's important that you both get on the same page about your finances before saying "I do." Easier said than done, right? It doesn't have to be.
You cannot hide things from your spouse and expect your marriage to survive. This is especially true when it comes to money. If you haven't already, call a meeting with your significant other and lay all of your financial cards (good and bad) on the table. Reveal your debts, assets and credit score (or lack thereof.) It might not be the most pleasant task, but being open about your situation allows you to create a financial plan together.
Create a Budget
A household budget is absolutely necessary to be financially successful as a couple. A budget helps you control spending, shows you where your money is going and prevents one side from taking on debt without the other knowing.
Financial expert Dave Ramsey advises all couples to combine their accounts after getting married. This creates "one income," meaning that any cash that comes into the household belongs to both you and your spouse - there's no "my money" or "his money."
For your budget, sit down and list all of your fixed expenses (rent or mortgage, utility bills, debt payments) and your variable expenses. Then, create a budget based on these expenses, listing certain amounts that are allocated to each category. What if you need something that's not in the budget? You must have a meeting with your spouse to discuss if the spending is necessary and where the money will come from out of your budget.
Make Extra Income
Worried about making enough money to cover your life as a couple? Consider taking on overtime, an extra job or even sell stuff to create more income for your budget. Working a lot of hours as a newlywed might not seem like the most enjoyable thing to do, but it will help take the financial burden off your relationship.
Have a Game Plan
Having a budget and extra income will "free up" money that can go toward savings, debt payments or retirement accounts to help build your financially secure future as a couple. Many couples - especially in this economy - are most worried about debt. One way to get rid of that debt is to use the debt snowball method of payoff. The debt snowball method means you make a list of all of your debts, along with their dollar amounts and interest rates. You start by concentrating on the smallest debt and putting all of your "extra" money toward that debt until its paid off. After that, you'll have some momentum and move on to the second, third, etc. debt until they're all paid off.
Make Financial Goals
Newlywed couples should also think about the future: children, retirement, travel, etc. Making financial goals as a couple will bring you closer together and instill a sense of purpose in your lives. Not sure where to start? First think about where you'd like to be in five years - in your own home? On a trip around the world? Honing in on your future will help you design a financial path that's right for you and help stave off financial worries.
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