- Your parents’ money approach doesn’t have to be your money approach. Maybe only your dad handled your family finances. Maybe your mom and dad never even talked about money. You and your spouse should approach your shared finances your own way and discover what works best.
- Have a monthly money check-in.
Make it part of your routine to sit down together and discuss your shared money. Talk about the state of your joint assets and any unforeseen expenses (or windfalls) that have come up recently. Make a point of doing this regularly, so you’re both informed on your family finances.
- Budgeting isn’t fun, but it’s less effort when you budget together.
It’s important to know where your money’s coming from and where it’s going every month. This is how to avoid going into debt, or how to successfully get out of debt. Combining your finances often makes you and your spouse more aware of all your expenses.
- Having individual checking accounts can be a lifesaver.
This is called the “Yours, Mine, Ours,” approach, where you each have some autonomy over shared money. Buying your spouse a birthday gift with money from your joint account would give away the surprise. Keeping an account for yourself allows you a bit of financial freedom and helps organize your spending.
- Set a “let’s talk” spending threshold.
You don’t need to have a conversation before one of you spends $20 on lunch. But $500? Or $1,000? It would probably be best to discuss that first. Figure out what that amount is to ensure neither of you are ever left out before the other makes a big purchase.
- You aren’t taking on your spouse’s debt when you get married, but it can still affect you.
When you apply for a loan as a married couple, banks assess both of your credit scores. If one person is carrying significant debt, your application could be denied. Be aware of your credit scores and prepare for how to look your best on an application.
- Don’t feel pressure to buy a home for the foreseeable future.
If you live in an expensive housing market, buying a home may not be realistic for a while. And that’s okay. If renting makes the most sense on a monthly cost level, do that, and contribute to an investment fund that builds equity over time like a mortgage on a property would.
- Plan for retirement before you plan for your future children’s education.
Having kids may not be part of your plan, but if it is, prioritize your future savings. You can get education loans if necessary, but you and your spouse can’t get retirement loans. Speak to a financial advisor to learn about savings accounts for retirement that you can borrow out of for education costs if necessary.
- Decide how to approach family and money.
If close friends or family approach you for a personal loan, how will you respond? You and your partner should agree on a policy, so neither of you ever feel like a friend or family member is being treated unfairly when money is involved.