Stop fighting about finances
Before you found “the one,” you probably didn't fret too much about life's many “what if” scenarios. For example, you might have been a little more fiscally irresponsible, you may have let your savings account dwindle to an all-time low, and you probably weren't too terribly worried about what type of life insurance you should buy - if you felt the need to purchase life insurance at all. But now that your days as a single are over, you might be struggling to sort out your combined financial responsibilities. If so, these money basics may make for a more harmonious financial union.
Stitch together a safety net
Now that you're married, someone depends on you, and your sudden absence could cause them serious financial and emotional stress. Now could be the time for you and your spouse to take action and safeguard yourselves from some of life's most ominous “what-ifs.” Begin by researching the different types of life insurance and decide which is best for you and your spouse. Then, do the math to find out just how much life insurance you both need. You may also want to start building an emergency fund for life's more minor hiccups.
Don't be coy about your debt
Debt can be a major source of strife in a marriage. It's important to be as transparent as possible about your debts before you wed, and to develop a game plan for addressing your debts as a couple. If one of you has a significant amount of debt and the other is debt free, it's important to know if and how you can afford to tackle your debt as a team. Budget planning can be key, and sticking to your budget can be even more important.
Forget “50/50”, do what works best for you
Marriage isn't like a first date; you don't have to go Dutch. As you may soon learn, not everything in your relationship will truly be 50/50. And while paying all your bills this way may seem equitable, it may not be the ideal way to handle your joint finances, especially if there's a disparity between your incomes, debt loads, or extenuating life circumstances. If you have a steady, reliable 9-5 job, for example, and your spouse is a freelance contractor whose checks are perpetually “in the mail,” it might make more sense for you to pay off your regular bills and let your spouse handle more flexible monthly expenses such as groceries or your entertainment budget. Whatever your situation, it may be important to remember that paying more than 50 percent of the bills does not mean you have a controlling financial stake in a marriage.
Stay on the same financial page
It's important that you and your spouse share equal knowledge about your personal and joint finances, and this can include equal responsibility for budget planning and managing your finances. Make sure you both know where all important documents, log-in information, passwords, and account information are kept for all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and insurance policies. If either of you feels that your knowledge of certain financial topics needs improvement, make an effort to educate yourself, be patient with each other, and feel free to enlist the assistance of a professional financial advisor, if necessary.
If you feel you're seriously lacking in financial know-how, we encourage both you and your spouse to get familiar with Protective Learning Center. You can find helpful tips for making a budget, managing massive student loan debt, and maintaining a healthy credit score.