Congratulations! You’ve found your person and now you’re starting a new life together. The last thing you want to think about is how financial strain could rob you of the future you and your new spouse are dreaming of. The reality, though, is that money troubles can undermine your future plans while creating a great deal of conflict in the relationship. Thankfully,
it doesn’t have to be that way. As newlyweds, there are things you can do today to set yourselves up for financial success through the happy decades to come.
The first and most important thing you can do to protect both your financial future and your relationship is to be honest with each other about your financial status. Be completely transparent when sharing details about your financial information, including income, savings, credit history, and debt load. Once you’re square with each other on your past and present financial situation, you will be better equipped to start planning and preparing for your financial future together.
Once you’re both on the same page when it comes to your current finances, it’s time to make some decisions about how to move forward. Do you want to blend your finances, keep them separate, or perhaps do a combination of both?
Settling these questions early helps prevent confusion and conflict down the road. For instance, you’ll need to decide if you want to maintain separate bank accounts, open a joint account, or hold both a separate and a joint account for the household. If you choose to do the latter, you’ll also need to consider how much each person will contribute to the household account, whether it be a predetermined amount or a certain percentage of each person’s take-home pay.
These same questions should be addressed when it comes to credit cards, loans, and other debts. Your spouse, for example, will likely only have legal access to bank or credit accounts if their name is added and it becomes a joint account.
Setting yourselves up for financial success doesn’t just mean resolving the financial questions of the day. You and your spouse also need to be thinking and planning ahead. Do either of you intend to go back to school? Are you planning on having children and, if so, how do you plan to fund their education? Do you rent or are you planning to buy a home? When and where would you like to retire?
All of these questions will help you develop a financial strategy that will enable you to build the future you’re dreaming of. For instance, if you envision yourself retiring early and spending your golden years traveling the world with your spouse, then you might invest in certificates of deposit (CD) or government bonds, which take a long time to mature but which can yield large dividends once they do.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a safe investment with a more immediate payoff, a high-yield savings account could be a good option.
The key, ultimately, is to determine what your goals are and to define your risk tolerance levels as a couple. This will help you decide whether stocks, savings, or even non-traditional investments are right for you and your significant other.
As newlyweds, you and your loved one can create a future that is uniquely yours. The financial decisions you make today can help ensure a lifetime of happy tomorrows.