Lenders typically consider learning how to manage money with your partner is a big part of any newlywed relationship. Though you’ve recently vowed to love each other “for richer or for poorer,” the reality is that the M-word can put a lot of stress on a new marriage. But — here’s the secret — it doesn’t have to ruin your newlywed bliss. Follow these tips to help you and your spouse tackle your financial future as a team.
1. Get Organized
The key to establishing a strong financial foundation is transparency. Your financial situation should never be swept under the rug. To determine the financial health of your marriage, each partner should perform a complete inventory of their income, debts, bank accounts, and any assets they have. Pay special attention to your credit scores, especially if you’re planning to apply for joint financial products, like a mortgage or an auto loan.
Hint: Your marital status won’t affect the interest rates you’re offered, but your credit scores will.
Each partner’s credit score but use the lower of the two to determine how much money they will lend and at what interest rate. If either of your credit scores could use a boost, take the time to improve it before committing to any high-dollar-value loans.
2. Set Goals
If you didn’t discuss finances before the wedding, now would be a great time to start. To plan for your future together, you’ll want to communicate your present financial goals with your new spouse. Let’s say you want to buy a home together, but your spouse wants to pay off student loan debt. Knowing what you prioritize individually versus what you prioritize as a couple will help determine what you can afford and what you may need to save a little longer for.
To help work toward common financial goals, create a budget that takes your newly combined monthly income into account. If you have no idea where to start, experts recommend using budgeting methods like the 50/30/20 rule to help manage your money.
3. Be Open and Honest
Things are bound to change throughout your marriage — and that includes your finances. To ensure that you’re staying true to your household budget and working toward your financial future, make regular money conversations a habit. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Consider your partner’s feelings, don’t hide your spending habits, or avoid any debts you’ve incurred.
General relationship maintenance is easy to overlook when you’re busy looking for financial solutions, but it’s not worth the long-term health of your relationship. Money talks are no one’s favorite subject, but mutual respect and mutual honesty will help keep them productive.
While talking about finances may not be at the top of your newlywed list, building the foundation for a long-lasting partnership that upholds your financial values is worth it. Having the “money talk” early will allow you to enjoy your newlywed days and look forward to growing your future together.