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09.14.2011 / Newlyweds: How to Blend Your Finances

Newly married couples may find blending their finances to be a challenge. Creating a budget and savings plan, deciding whether to open a joint checking account and determining how to navigate existing debt are just some of the major decisions newlyweds face.

"Open communication and setting mutual savings goals can help to ease the stress"

Open communication and setting mutual savings goals can help to ease the stress. The following tips can help you and your new spouse start your lives together smoothly and avoid major financial hurdles down the road.
 
Decide if you will open a joint checking account
Decide together if you are going to open a joint checking account or keep your accounts separate. Joint checking accounts allow for convenience when depositing, withdrawing and paying bills. However, since you both have control over the account, you both can use the funds without consent of the other which can lead to possible tension or disagreements if you do not maintain open communication. Separate accounts allow for each of you to keep a level of independence, but you’ll need to decide together a fair way to share the responsibilities of paying bills and saving money.

Create a budget and savings plan
One of the biggest challenges can be merging your spending and saving habits with that of your partner’s. Before marriage, you were responsible for your own finances. If you had a budget and routine in place for paying bills, saving, and spending, it’s now time to rethink and discuss a new plan with your loved one. Create a budget to calculate your monthly expenses including rent, utility bills, student loan payments, car payments and insurance premiums. Determine how much you have leftover and decide together how to divide that money between savings, spending money and paying down debt.

Setting mutual goals can help you avoid disagreements on how the money should be spent. Work together to develop savings goals for a new car or home. If you don’t already have a savings account, First National Bank offers a variety of savings accounts with competitive interest rates and easy access to your funds.  It’s also important to build up your emergency savings and it’s never too early to begin saving for retirement.

Discuss how much debt you are each carrying
Open communication is key when discussing debt. It’s best to have this conversation before walking down the aisle, as your partner’s credit will affect your credit once you are married. Make a list of the debt you each carry and begin putting money aside each month to pay it down. If possible, try paying off your current debt before incurring any new debt as a married couple.

Designate who will manage the finances
Decide who will pay the bills, balance the checkbook and monitor the savings accounts. One person may be better suited for these responsibilities than the other or you may decide to share responsibility. Make sure you are both okay with what is decided and remain open with one another. To avoid conflict, both of you should have access to the accounts and there should be no secrets or surprises. Check in with each other once a month on how your savings goals are progressing.

Navigating your finances together may be challenging in the beginning, but will be rewarding in the end. Remaining honest and open with each other while achieving your savings goals will lead to a successful and happy life.

Do you have any newlywed tips on financing?  Please post your comment now.

Posted at 11:41 AM | Permalink
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