When you are single, budgeting can seem so much easier. There is only one person to keep track of, and one set of finances and bills to take care of. When you get married, it can be an exciting journey, but not one without its fair share of new challenges. Most newlyweds, in the haze of the honeymoon phase, tend to make the mistake of not discussing finances.
While this can be a common mistake to make, it doesn’t have to be a permanent one! More than 70% of couples argue about money at some point in their relationship, so getting on the same page financially is necessary for the long-term growth of your relationship. While it can become easy to argue about finances as an inexperienced couple, having a budget in place can help deter these arguments from happening in the first place. Every newly married couple can benefit from a budget being implemented in the relationship!
Start the Financial Conversation
What most newlyweds make the mistake of not starting conversations about money, this thinking can lead to snags down the road in marriage. Not being able to communicate properly about money and finances can be a hinderance on your funds. While talks like this can be daunting and uncomfortable to start, conversations about money are important for your financial and romantic health.
To begin your conversation, it can be helpful to start with financial goals. What have and haven’t you two discussed before. This can often take the form of questions: What does our accumulated debt look like? What should our finances look like five years from now? If we find ourselves in debt, would we consider a title loan?
These questions can be useful to help determine your current financial state, your combined goals, and how you would proceed together. Learning how to communicate with your spouse can help both of you become a solid team when it comes to your finances!
Discuss Your Accounts Together
Another aspect of your finances to consider is how you would both want your bank accounts to be set up. If both of you are employed, there are a few different options. There can be one joint account, and two individual accounts. This can be beneficial if you choose to set up a mutual account for bills that are shared, and both of you decide to contribute each month. If you have accumulated individual debt, this can be an ideal choice.
However, if both of you are looking to contribute equally, a joint account can be ideal for both of you to tackle your bills together.
Create Your Goals
Before you begin to create your budget, you and your spouse should discuss what financial goals both of you have. Some financial goals that couples have include:
- Getting Out of Debt
- Saving for a House
- Paying Off a Loan
- Save for Retirement
- Saving for Future Education
- Creating an Emergency Fund
- An Auto Equity Loan
Regardless of your financial goals, these are important topics to discuss ahead of time, as they can help construct your budget plan. If your future includes a house, a long retirement, or children that you want to put through college, these are goals to consider ahead of time when you are a newlywed.
Design Your Budget
If you have discussed your financial goals with your spouse, the next step is to design your ideal budget for your financial situation. In order to do so, you and your spouse will need to determine your combined monthly income.
When determining the estimate amount, be sure to include:
- Combined Wage Income
- Any Residual Income
- Income from Side Jobs
- Investment Income
Once your spouse and yourself have determined your income, getting started on your budget is easy. Your expenses should be separated into two different categories:
- Variable Expenses: These expenses change in amount throughout the month. Usually, these costs include items like groceries, transportation costs, and entertainment.
- Fixed Expenses:These expenses will not change throughout the month, and they are generally the highest priority on your expense list. These are generally items such as your mortgage, rent, and any loan payments you might have.
Once your expenses have been determined, take your bank and credit card statements in your hand, and determine your expenses throughout the month. When you are a newlywed, you will need to consider your spouse’s expenses as well. When creating your budget, it is important to consider their expenses in order to have an accurate understanding of how to delegate your funds.
Take these documented expenses from the last month and separate them into two expense categories. This is where you and your spouse can diagnose where you are overspending, and where you need to improve your financial habits together.
With a budgeting app or ledger, create your budget and columns that will form the outline of your budget for the month.
Track Your Budget
While creating your budget may seem like a big accomplishment, the real triumph is learning how to track it with your partner! What can be beneficial to do is keep a physical or electronic copy of your budget for your day to day. Whether you prefer a physical ledger or an app on your phone, keeping your budget in your pocket can help keep you and your spouse stay on top of spending limits. It can be more helpful to keep an electronic version, as it can update your expenses in real time for you and your spouse to keep track of.
Every month, it can be helpful to evaluate your budget with your spouse. Go through your past month’s expenses, and see if there are any categories that you might be overspending. It is important to make sure that you are not living outside of your means as well. If your payments on your house or car are too much, it may be time to downsize!