You love each other and you are going to marry. You are going to blend your lives and share everything. You will share your home, your time, your future, and your laundry. This is a bit of a challenge, but with a little effort, they are easy enough. As you face merging your incomes, you may feel a bit scared. This is a big exercise in trust, and one that will help you grow as a couple. It is okay to be nervous, but as long as you commit to this step together, you will be just fine. Remember, this is your foundation. A great foundation is step one to a strong and solid life.
Let’s get started with some helpful tips.
Start referring to “your” money as “our” money.
As silly as this sounds, it is very important. You both must learn to look at the money each of you brings into the home as “our money”. You no longer have an income and your spouse has an income; your joint income is the income you have. This is an exercise and it takes a little time. Encourage each other and think of the great buying power you have as a “we”. Besides, learning to say “our money” is not as hard as learning to say, “our closet space”!
Cut expenses and plan for your financial future
Your early years, pre-children, are the years you need to work on a clear and financially sound future. Children bring love like no other. They bring laughter, and goals. However, they are also children quite an expense! Before you begin your family, pay off debt, get rid of student loans, and ramp up your emergency savings. Consider personal fundraising by setting up a Crowdfunding registry. This allows people who want to give you a gift, or contribute to your future a place to privately donate. In lieu of wedding gifts, shower gifts, or even annual gifts that you receive, you can get the gift of a financially stable future. There is nothing more wonderful than creating life together, so don’t let some lingering bills rob your joy.
Planning a family
If you are planning to have children in the next few years, choose a time to adjust your income. Budget to where one of your incomes covers monthly bills and the other goes paying down debt and savings. Keep this plan moving until the time comes. Leave room for human error. It is okay if you fall short every now and then and splurge on a weekend away. It’s a plan and it should be fun not feel like financial punishment.
Once children arrive, you will have some major financial adjustments. With your plan in place, you can reallocate the funds going into savings and paying debt down. One parent may choose to stay home with the child as if both parents work full-time away from home, day care can be quite an expense. Raising a child is like trying to catch the wind, just when you think they are going one way wearing a football kit they show up in a band jacket, dragging a tuba. Enjoy the ride and don’t take things too seriously.
Take an honest look at what is eating up your income. If student loans are the problem, look into student loan forgiveness programs. Many programs exist to allow relief from student loans. Are you paying off too many credit cards? Focus on paying them off, one by one. Do not overlook individual retirement accounts. In 2016 a working spouse can contribute up to $5500.00 into a nonworking spouse’s account ($6500 if you are over 50) if you qualify. Your income becomes one. However, couples who set up their finances where the income of one spouse pays monthly bills, are a lot happier and there is a lot less stress. Create a good financial plan as you begin your life as a couple and have a wonderful life together.