You’ve said your vows in front of family and friends. You’ve gone on your honeymoon. Now comes the tricky part: Navigating everyday life. How should you share the household costs? How much money are you saving for the future? Here are five financial tips to help newlyweds live together for richer, not poorer.
1. Make A Budget … And Stick To It!
Sit down together and write out a list of all your fixed expenses: housing, debt, insurance, wireless bill—anything that pretty much stays the same month-over-month. Make another list of variable expenses, like your utilities, groceries and gas. Track both lists for a few months to get a picture of how your earning and spending stack up. Figure out what costs you can cut (or at least reduce), and keep your spending below your net income. Set up an emergency savings account for unexpected, large expenses such as if your air conditioning breaks or your car breaks down.
2. Share & Share Alike
When it comes to money, don’t keep each other in the dark: You should both be involved in the financial decision-making. Each of you needs to know what bills are due when, and share your account information with each other, including online logins and passwords. Make agreements about day-to-day expenses and how large a purchase one of you can make without needing to consult the other first.
If you each own a car, putting them under the same car insurance policy could save you up to 25 percent with a multi-car discount. You could save even more when you insure your home and belongings through the GEICO Insurance Agency.*
3. Open A Joint Bank Account
Want to avoid quibbling over bills? A joint checking account can help make sure you both contribute equally to the household costs. Each of you can deposit a regular amount each month and only use the account for shared or household expenses. (It’s okay for you to also keep separate accounts for when you need to treat yourself or surprise your spouse.)
4. Do Away With Debt
People can bring a lot to a relationship, including debt, adding undue financial stress early in the marriage. You may want to avoid adding your spouse’s name to your outstanding loans and credit-card balances; it’ll only hurt their credit score. Instead, work out a payment plan to get you both out of debt faster. Start by paying off high-interest credit cards and think twice before making a large purchase on credit.
5. Get Back To The Future
Talk about your long-term goals and make a plan to reach them together. Make monthly contributions to your savings or investments (it helps to budget for these like just any other monthly expense) and make sure you have the right insurance policies to cover any surprises. The best wedding present you can give yourselves is financial peace of mind.
Read more: The Ultimate Newlywed Checklist
By Sam Song
Originally published September 2014 *Some discounts are not available in all states or in all GEICO companies.