There’s a lot to get used to once you make the move from the single life to that of the married one. Learning the ins and outs of living with someone else can be challenging, and things can get even more complicated if you aren’t on the same page with your finances.
What you need to know
Communication is one of the most important ways to ensure that you and your partner stay on the same page about your newly shared finances.
Divorce attorney Gabrielle Hartley says that that not communicating and understanding what each other’s money mindset is can lead to issues down the road.
“Often, newlywed couples tend to gloss over their differences in money matters and fail to establish clear expectations around money within the marriage. This is a great pitfall and can ultimately lead to trouble down the road,” she says.
US News Financial contributor Geoff Williams says another big mistake is hiding financial secrets.
“If you’re buried in debt, your spouse will find out sooner or later when you go through the process of buying a home or filing taxes.” It’s better to just be open from the start, he says.
Not planning for the future
Melissa Fradenburg with Lakeshore Financial Planning suggests that aside from your normal expected expenses like rent or utilities, there needs to be a discussion about how much money you both want to plan on putting toward extra expenses. These can be fun things like travel and eating out, or they can be for things in the future.
“I recommend that couples keep some spending autonomy when combining their finances,” Fradenburg says. “Spending autonomy and money secrets are not the same thing. When you open a joint account or work through a household budget together, a newlywed couple should come up with an amount that they can each spend on miscellaneous items each month.”
Budgeting is something that you should be looking at even before you are married.
“If you’re planning on saving or spending a specific amount when you’re married, just start doing that a few months before the wedding,” says Elijah Lopez with Manske Wealth Management.
“Then,” he continues, “if the plan is not working, you can talk about it in advance and make adjustments as needed.”
He also says that just setting up a budget isn’t enough — it’s crucial to make sure that you continue to talk about it.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have a good emergency fund set up, Williams says.
Hear the rest of the conversation
You can catch the rest of the newlywed discussion on Dave and Dujanovic’s Right on the Money.