Gone are the days when newly married couples automatically merge bank accounts and designate a single breadwinner. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your partner about how you spend, save and allocate your money before you say “I do.”
It’s no secret that sharing your money matters with others can be stressful. So, during this time of year when many are tying the knot, we gathered six tips for budgeting as newlyweds that can help you and your spouse get on the same page.
Open up about finances. Some couples determine that combining bank accounts help them achieve their goals faster. Others, however, may find that their different money management styles work best with separate accounts. Either way, open communication with each other about your spending and saving habits will be key to managing your finances together.
Share your credit history. If you haven’t already, you and your spouse can each request a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com. The report will not include your credit score, but any of the main credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — can provide that for a fee. To learn more about understanding your credit, download our credit education brochure.
Write down financial goals. Still paying off student loans? Or maybe you’re trying to save for a down payment on a house or vehicle. Whatever your financial goals, write them down and discuss what you and your partner can do to reach these goals together. For example:
Get up to date on payments and stay current.
Set up payment reminders in MyAccount or our mobile app for Android users. Recurring payments could allow you to set it and forget it.
Carefully consider your credit score before applying for new credit to pay down debt.
Design a budget. Our free family budget worksheet can help you and your spouse take an honest look at your incoming funds and outgoing expenses. You’ll only get a true picture of your finances if you share with each other how much you earn, save and spend (including impulse purchases and every cup of coffee). Track your money carefully and look at what works for your lifestyle and your financial goals.
Start an emergency fund. According to the Federal Reserve, only half of the people surveyed could cover a hypothetical $400 emergency expense without selling something or borrowing money. In addition to savings, it’s a good idea to put money into a designated account for emergencies. Six to eight months of living expenses can help cover unexpected costs, such as medical bills or job loss, without going into debt.
Plan for your future. Retirement may seem like a long way away, but the earlier you start saving, the more likely you’ll reach your retirement savings goals. See if your employer offers a 401(k) savings plan or other retirement savings option.
Now that you’ve committed to each other, commit to managing your newlywed budget as a team. It’ll be easier to stay on track when you work together.
By Lori Tutt, GM Financial
From cars and movies to great works of literature, Lori Tutt has a passion for the classics. She’s never claimed to be good with numbers but can readily find the right words to describe money matters like budgets, investments and understanding credit. And when she’s stressed, she turns it around with desserts (or clever wordplay).