This is a sponsored post by NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners), but all opinions are my own.
Before we got married, Joe and I had a lot of talks about our finances and all of the adult decisions we were going to have to make in our new life together. Making those choices before we got married took a lot of stress out of the "adjusting" that every newlywed couple goes through after tying the knot. Planning a wedding is exciting and a lot of fun, but you shouldn't forget to think about and discuss what "becoming one" means for your finances.
I came up with a few topics that I think made a big difference for us as we transitioned from being single and independent to getting married and becoming a team. There is obviously a lot more to be discussed before the big day, but these are a few of the things that I think cause the most stress or contention in your relationship if you aren't on the same page from day one of your marriage, and even earlier if possible!
Our bank accounts have been combined since we got back from our honeymoon, we didn't waste any time. Marrying our finances was a no brainer for us, and it didn't even need to be discussed. Money is referred to as 'ours' rather than 'yours' and 'mine' and we both have our own income, but the money all goes to the same place. This decision helps us avoid any argument about who is contributing more to the household and who should cover which expenses. We work better as a team and so do our paychecks!
We openly talk about and are proud of the fact that we have been debt free for the past year. From the time we started talking about getting married, we set a goal to pay off our cars and husband's business loan as soon as possible. I have never had to take out a student loan, and we decided together that we never will. Credit cards aren't something we suggest, we have one, but I don't think husband even knows where it's at (don't worry, I keep track of it) because it's not something we ever consider using. All of these decisions stem from our goal to remain debt free and never borrow money for something that we don't need or can pay for on our own with a little budgeting.
It's such an adult thing to deal with, and it's not really fun, but insurance is super important and very necessary! Confession: Until we signed the lease agreement for our first apartment and were told to send in proof of renter's insurance, that wasn't something I'd even thought about. We were able to save a lot of money by combining our auto policies when we got married, but we still sometimes forget to budget for that bill that is due every six months. Life insurance isn't something we've had to really think about yet because it's provided to us through work, but we have decided exactly what we'll do if we ever have to purchase it for ourselves. (I love this article from Dave Ramsey about term life vs. whole life insurance.) Up until a month ago, both of us were still on our parent's health insurance plans. It was a little stressful trying to figure out what we were going to do when that wasn't an option anymore, because our original plan wasn't available, but we finally got things sorted out.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has created a great Insurance Survival Guide for Newlyweds. It provides great tips and things to think about when you are making that transition and discussion how you want to combine your insurance lives. I'm really excited to use their free MyHome.Scr.APP.book app to quickly inventory all of the stuff we own. The app organizes information by room and creates a back-up file for e-mails sharing! (Search NAIC to download the app at iTunes and Android market.)
Some couples check in with each other for every dollar they spend, and others don't care how much money is spent or on what. In our marriage, we decided to start using our personalized version of the envelope system to help control our spending in the areas that we were most frivolous. We're still working to perfect it, but it's been a great tool to keep us aware of our budget. If both of you aren't on the same page with this issue, it can become a very sore spot in your relationship. I'm the spender in our relationship, and even though my envelope is always empty and Joe's has become a mini savings account, I never feel guilty and he's never annoyed because that money was set aside for me to use however I want.
Every couple is different, and what works for us might not work for every single person out there. Talk to your significant other, decide what goals you have for your money and then use those goals to find what will work best for your marriage and your lifestyle.
What decisions did you and your spouse make that have helped or will help your marriage?