Marriage and Money - how to manage your finances together

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Just Married? How To Manage Your Finances After The Big Day

You’ve just gotten hitched and you’re refreshed after your honeymoon. You’re rested and you’ve got a clear head. With the vacation bliss at an end, it’s the perfect time to sit down and look at the new marriage and money situation you and your spouse are working with. So, how do you go about joining your finances and what should you tackle first? It all depends on the state of each of your finances going into marriage. Let’s take a look at some of the steps going forward:

1. Look at your combined finances

The first thing you need to do with your spouse is sit down and get a detailed picture of what each of your finances look like. You want to know about all of the debt, all of the assets, all the accounts, savings, income, bills, etc. You should also get a good idea of where each other’s money has historically been spent, and what their budget looked like before you got married. Nothing should be left out of this overview, not even the $2 Double Doubles your spouse gets at Tim’s every Sunday morning. You need to be able to account for every dime, and that’s going to require cooperation and honesty from each of you.

2. Get your credit reports

Next, you should obtain each of your credit reports free from Equifax and TransUnion. This is going to give you a good idea of what you need to work on as far as credit score goes. You want to work towards a higher score for both of you so that buying a home will be easier down the road.

3. Make a list of your debts

You’ll need to take the list of debts you owe that you made when you created a detailed overview of your finances and order them by interest rate.

4. Create a budget

Now, you’ll need to create a realistic budget that includes paying down your debts as fast as you can, prioritizing the debts with the highest interest. Getting rid of high interest debts quickly will save you loads in interest, and that savings can be used to pay down your lower interest rate debts faster. Depending on how much debt-load the two of you have, making room in your budget to save an emergency fund is a good idea. Paying down your debts should take priority, because the faster you pay debt down, the less you pay in interest, but as soon as you have your debts paid down, the next priority should be saving an emergency fund.

5. Figure out your goals

Talk to your spouse about goals - do you want to buy a house? When? Are you hoping to take vacations? Buy a new car? Save for retirement? Get on the same page with our financial goals and don’t forget that compromise will make this process much, much easier.

8. Open joint accounts

Once you have your budget and your goals figured out, you can set up joint savings and chequing accounts at the financial institution of your choice. This makes all your goals and payments much easier, but keeping your finances separate until you have everything paid down is also an option. It just means keeping track of twice as many accounts.

7. Close other accounts

Close any accounts you no longer need.

9. Change your pay details

Contact your employer to change your automatic pay deposits if applicable.

10. Make sure both of your credit is up to scratch

If one or both of you have poor credit, you’re going to want a good game plan to increase your credit score. Consider a secured credit card, a secured joint line of credit or a credit building program. You can also opt for a mix of these options for even more momentum building toward a better credit score. If you want more information on how to get these credit products started, click here.

11. Keep the conversation going

Schedule money chats at least as often as you get paid. Make a commitment to each other to stay on top of your finances and review where your money has gone each month. Being aware of where your money stands is half the battle, as we tend to get busy and find countless reasons to put off looking at our cash flow. If you don’t prioritize talking about your money, debt can creep up while you’re not looking and before you know it you find yourself in trouble. Agree to be open, honest and non-judgmental to promote the free flow of information. If one of you is in the dark about certain aspects of your finances, nothing is going to work to improve them.

12. Work together as a team

See yourself and your partner as a team. Behave as a team, defend each other as a team and work for the future as a team. Whatever one person can do, two people can do twice as efficiently, if you work together towards the same ends.

One of the toughest adjustments that comes with marriage is handling your money together. Understanding that everything you do is going to affect the other person is hard to get used to, but absolutely paramount to the upward motion of your finances. The most important accomplishment any married couple can make when it comes to money, is getting on the same page and moving forward together.

What tips do you have for newly married couples with regards to money? Let us know in the comments!

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