You say “I do,” kiss the bride, and then reality sets in.
Once the wedded bliss begins to fade, you realize newlywed life isn’t as glamorous as you might have imagined. There’s bills, work, and if you’re like most of us- debt.
When Eric married me, he also married the student loan debt I carried from my 4 years at North Carolina State University (Go Pack!) and we married each other’s credit card debt. It wasn’t awful, but hey, debt is not usually a good thing.
Combining accounts led to stress and anxiety on my part, so I want to make this as seamless as possible with some tips and tricks we’ve done since our wedding day to create organization in our financial world.
I’m speaking to newlyweds, but you could really apply any of these as a single person too. Take what speaks to you and tweak it as needed.
Keep credit cards under control.
Before we got married, Eric and I were mindful about our credit card balances. Of course with wedding expenses being more than we originally anticipated, this was challenging, but we did our best to keep spending to a minimum and pay it when we could. This was helpful going into a marriage of our finances and is something we still work on now.
See what you’re working with.
You can’t improve what you don’t know. One night we sat down at our kitchen table and looked at all the numbers: student loan payoff amounts, credit card balances, savings accounts, checking accounts, etc. Whatever we had, we laid it out there. It was overwhelming to look at it all, but once we knew what we had, it wasn’t so scary. Knowing this big final number will allow you to set up a goal and a plan!
Set up a joint account.
If you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, you’ve probably already heard this. Set up an account together. We closed our old accounts and moved everything into one at my bank since the rates are better. Again, this was scary to do. I’ve never shared money with somebody. But once you’re married you’re joining everything, including your finances. Having a joint account makes bill paying so much easier and you can work together as a team. This made such a difference in how we saw our money because it’s all coming in as one- no his and hers. We’re in this together.
Create a budget.
You may or may not already have one of these prior. I’ve had my own budget for a while now, but had to do a major update once we joined accounts. Ours is pretty detailed, but I love having everything in one place. Having a set budget makes spending decisions a lot easier. So how do you create one?
- List out all our expenses for the month: savings, tithe/charity, bills, and other payments we need to make (grocery, gas, and entertainment). Next to each item is the amount, due date, and any notes and remaining balance for those that are paid multiple times in the month.
- List out all our debts: student loans and credit cards with notes to identify goal payoff.
- List out all credits: any income that is coming in. This is helpful for us to compare to the budget and debts. We can also easily mark where that money will be going. Every dollar should have a name to it, especially while you’re paying off debt and setting yourself up for financial security.
I’ve alluded to this already, but sit down and set some goals. How quickly do you want debts paid off? How much do you want in savings? How quickly? Do you want to be saving for anything specific? House? Car? Big trip? This will be totally personal to you, but once you set some goals it’ll make everything else work. For example, you’ll be more likely to stick to budget when you’re thinking about your goal to have all debts paid off so you can have more money to travel to Europe compared to just making payments. Making payments and savings isn’t exactly fun or sexy until you think about what it’ll mean for you and your family down the road.
Maintain open communication.
We talk openly about our finances and where our money is going which helps keep us on the same page. Although we talk about it throughout the week, it’s been helpful for us to have a weekly meeting to touch base face to face and discuss any expenses for the upcoming week. We can easily adjust budget items as needed in the week to week and check in with our goals.
The most important thing is to work together. It takes some discipline and sacrifices now, but it’ll be so worth it.
If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.
Organizing your finances and set yourself up for success. You got this!!