Finances may not be front of mind for many newlyweds, but taking the time to organize your finances now can save you a considerable amount of time, money, and stress later on. Ideally, you’ll have discussed finances prior to getting married, but if not, the sooner the better. Even if you lived together before you were married or had already combined some or all of your finances, it’s still important to revisit your finances once you’re married. There is no one size fits all approach to handling your finances as a couple, but there are a few key factors that can make managing your finances together easier and more effective.
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As newlyweds, you’ve almost certainly heard how important communication is in marriage, but it’s worth saying again. Communicating requires both expressing your needs as well as listening to those of your partner. Marriage requires some flexibility and compromise, and that includes how you handle your finances.
You don’t want to be so uncomfortable with your finances that you resent your partner, but you also may not be able to handle your finances in exactly the same way as you did when you were single. If you want to start a conversation around finance but aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few good questions to get the ball rolling:
- What is your current financial situation, and how much debt do you have?
- What are your financial goals, both short-term and long-term?
- How do you prefer to handle money?
- How big does a purchase need to be before you check in with each other?
Set Goals and Create a Joint Budget
Communicating your financial goals is important, but you’ll also need to create a plan for how to reach them. That’s where a budget comes in. Budgeting is key to achieving your financial goals. Even if you have separate accounts, you should consider your finances holistically through a budget.
Many people misunderstand the point of a budget and perceive it as restrictive. But budgeting is about priorities, not deprivation. By mindfully choosing where your money goes, you can spend more on the things that matter most to you. Setting goals and creating a budget can even bring you closer together. Working towards a shared goal you’re looking forward to, whether it’s a vacation or retirement, can help you feel like more like a team!
Do What Works for You
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how married couples should handle their money. You could combine everything, you could have only one joint account, or you could keep everything separate. If one of you is better suited and more interested in taking the lead on financial matters, that’s fine, but both people should have a clear understanding of your financial situation.
If you prefer to share responsibility, it almost always works better to divvy up specific tasks for each person to be in charge of. The most important thing is to make sure you’re both comfortable with your arrangement. If circumstances change, check in with each other to make sure your arrangement is still working for both of you.
If major life events, such as an inheritance, a raise, or an addition to your family occur, you’ll want to re-evaluate your finances. But you shouldn’t limit financial check-ins to only major moments. Even if you decide that one person is in charge of handling your finances, you should still have periodic meetings to address any updates, concerns, or questions that may arise.
Committing to periodic meetings, such as once a month, can provide a time to discuss finances when you’re both prepared for the conversation. Otherwise, it may be hard to find the right time to bring up concerns, or you may feel surprised and defensive if your partner brings up finances when you weren’t expecting it. Having a set aside time to discuss finances can help keep you on the same page and avoid fights or arguments. You can even turn these periodic check-ins into money date nights, in which you check in to make sure you’re preparing for a great financial future together.
Speak with a Financial Advisor
Managing finances is like many other parts of marriage. It requires honesty and effort. Communicating with your spouse and creating a financial plan as soon as you get married can help you address any potential issues early on. If your financial situation is complex or you find that you need additional support, consider consulting with a financial advisor. Contact Good Life Financial Advisors of West Virginia today to request a consultation!