It’s nothing new; money remains at the top of the list of disagreements between couples. Most likely it’s because the two people involved have entirely different styles of money management – so the vows to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, may not hold up when money becomes co-mingled.
There are steps you can take to ensure you both live happily and financially ever after:
Communicate expectations and set financial goals.
Few couples discuss money in depth before the wedding. Ask thought-provoking questions like which is more important, owning a home as soon as possible or taking vacations each year? It may seem mercenary, but couples need to sit down and share their financial histories and habits, tax returns, billing statements, and other financial accounts. Discuss your financial goals, and how you plan to manage your money from month to month.
Plan a budget – and stick to it.
Budget not only for the big items like a new car or home but also for the smaller ones like holiday and birthday presents. Track of all your expenses, mainly because these may be new to both of you. Use online or mobile banking to monitor your accounts and watch where you’re spending money. Create a worry-free system to pay the bills like signing up for free bill pay.
Establish an emergency fund.
Don’t doubt the importance of having liquid cash to access. Experts recommend saving at least three months’ worth of living expenses for emergencies like a major home repair, medical expense, or temporary loss of work.
Plan for the future.
Do you both want children? This is another essential topic to discuss honestly. Having children is not only a wonderful and enriching life experience but also hugely impactful on a couple’s budget. Be conscious of and understand the financial ramifications and be prepared to make changes to your budget before your bundle of joy comes along.
The baby’s birth is a good time to start saving for education, but until then, couples should maximize their retirement savings.
If disagreements persist, keep separate accounts.
For some couples, keeping some money separate works best. Consider having four accounts: a joint savings account for emergencies and investments; a joint checking or transaction account into which each spouse pays according to his or her income; and an individual account for each to cover personal expenses. Keeping some money separate eliminates the need to ask permission!
Take turns to manage the bills.
By doing this, you’ll both know where the money goes. Plus, one of you may be more organized than the other. If it’s clear that one partner is than the other, have that person be the bookkeeper. However (and this is important), review the bills together every month. This helps keep the communication open with no surprises.
Need to find out more? As a member of First United Credit Union, you can take advantage of the GreenPath Financial Wellness program, a free financial education and counseling program. To use this service, call 877-337-3399 or visit www.greenpathref.com.
Source: GreenPath Financial Wellness