I was honored to be a part of my buddy’s wedding this past weekend. It is always a joy to see two newlyweds embark on their journey together to face life and all her glory. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 4 years since I got hitched. It’s been a fun learning process for us both. And we learn something new each day. For the newlyweds, I thought I would take a minute to give some financial tips on how they can start their life in financial bliss and not financial misery.
After the honeymoon is over and wedding cake is all gone it’s time to start your financial journey. Hopefully, you already have an understanding of what you’re getting yourself into…..debt, that is. Credit cards, student loans, car loans etc. If you don’t know, it’s not too late. Just ask. Your debt is her debt and vice versa. You should make a list of all the debt you have; listing in descending order the highest interest rate balances. Make high interest credit cards your priority. Then work down the list one at a time. I prefer putting an emphasis on paying down one at a time (still making the minimum payments on the others to avoid being delinquent) because it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you are able to start paying them off and being able to mark them off the list and see some progress. Think of it like a “To-Do List”. Doesn’t it always feel good to cross something off and be done with it? Dave Ramsey calls this the debt snowball. Pay one off and keep it going.
Now that you have a sense of the debt situation, follow these steps:
Have regular talks about the finances
Who pays the bills? Discuss major and minor purchases. What financial goals do you both have? It’s important to have open communication so that you are not resenting him for buying the Ipod that he could have done without when you are wanting to boost your savings.
Get your savings up
As I said before, you want to have a emergency fund at all times. Make the first goal to have at least $1000 in the bank. Once you achieved that, make it goal to have three months worth of household expenses. Then six months and once you reach 8 months you should be on cruise control.
If you don’t have it, look into it. Your employer may offer some cheap term insurance that should take care of your family. If you already have some, you will want to make sure that your spouse is now listed as the beneficiary. That goes for wills, too. Remember Heath Ledger? Unfortunately, his will did not list his daughter and her mother as beneficiaries that sparked an ugly family feud.
Have a 401k? If so, get your match (free money). Don’t have a Roth IRA yet? Go start one up. Once your savings is in order, start deferring as much as your salary as you can afford. I always advise people to start smaller at first then gradually increase as you go along. For example, start at 5% of your salary to automatically come out of your paycheck. Once you get used to that, bump it up to 6% and keep it going. Got a raise? Adjust your percentage accordingly and keep saving so that an early retirement is in your future.
Too much info
That’s a lot to get started, but that’s what professional are for. Seek guidance from Certified Financial Planner get you off on the right track to a happy marriage.