Your wedding and honeymoon were perfect and you’re now settling into married life. Much like wedding planning, proper financial planning is essential to a happy, healthy marriage. If you haven’t already made decisions about key financial topics as a couple, let First Federal Bank first offer you our congratulations, and our top tips for newlyweds.
Tip 1: Don’t Hide Financial Information from Your Spouse
Just like your relationship, when it comes to couples’ finances, there should be no secrets. If you’ve kept a financial secret from your partner, such as hidden income, undisclosed debts or unrevealed investment accounts, now is the time to put your cards on the table and create a plan. Building trust is vital to a relationship, and a spouse’s financial deception can quickly strain a marriage. Additionally, hiding information such as purchases or debt, isn’t fair to your partner and can make it nearly impossible to create an accurate long-term financial strategy.
Tip 2: Set Goals and Learn Your Money Personality
Have regular discussions about financial goals and create both short- and long-term financial strategies. Financial talks might be awkward at times, especially if your spouse dreams of taking frequent vacations and you want to save aggressively for an early retirement. Knowing where you stand financially and where you are going will reduce marital stress. It’s common to have different money philosophies, so learn more about your spouse’s money personality in a fun way by taking a quiz like the Moneyharmoney Quiz. Then, figure out what you and your spouse want out of the next five to 25 years and set some financial goals.
Tip 3: Plan Your Big-Ticket Purchases
Creating a household budget is vital, and there are plenty of books on the subject to prove it. For newlyweds, the best tip is to spend conservatively. A fancy house may seem like the gateway to the American Dream, but it comes with potentially big mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance premiums, not to mention furniture and related costs. Instead, if buying a home is a priority for you, crunch the numbers with First Federal Bank’s Mortgage Loan Calculator. The loan officers at First Federal Bank can help you determine the best mortgage option for you.
Overspending on a new car can also be tempting because you don’t currently have the expenses that you might later in your marriage. But consider spending less on these big-ticket items now so you can limit the type of debt that can put other dreams on hold later. If a new car, truck or SUV is essential for either of you, crunch the numbers with our auto loan calculator and talk to us about our auto loan options.
Tip 4: Consider Joint Bank Accounts
Spouses should discuss whether to keep their individual checking and savings accounts or open joint accounts. Though there’s no right answer, there are good reasons for considering joint bank accounts. Merging finances eliminates secrecy, motivates financial discussions and moves newlyweds away from the concept of “my money” and “your money.” From a logistical standpoint, it’s also easier to track assets and pay household bills from a joint account. Additionally, newlyweds should create a separate emergency savings account to be accessed only when there are crises such as job loss or major medical bills. At First Federal Bank, we can help you decide what accounts to combine and methods for merging finances.
Tip 5: Keep Your Credit Cards
Most newlyweds have had a credit card before marriage, so it can be confusing to determine whether to combine cards into a joint credit card account. A joint credit card account makes it easier to track spending; however, you may not want to cancel those individual cards immediately. It’s wise to keep at least one card in each spouse’s name, regularly using it and paying it off. This will help support each spouse’s credit score.
Tip 6: Save for Retirement
Although retirement may seem light years away, newlyweds should make an early commitment to save for their golden years. Both spouses should take advantage of their employers’ 401(k) or other retirement plans with the goal of saving as much as possible toward retirement. The younger you start, the better position you’ll be in later. These accounts can be supplemented with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), which First Federal Bank can help you open. Should you and your spouse merge these IRAs? Many experts say no. Separate accounts not only spread out the investment risk, but they leave both partners with a nest egg in the event of unforeseen separation.
While everyone will give you plenty of advice when you are starting out your marriage, the best advice is to lead with honesty and good communication. This includes smart planning and sound financial decisions from the onset so you can enjoy this wonderful time of your lives. If you’d like to discuss “what’s next” after the wedding bells, visit us in person in Ohio, Michigan or Indiana, or connect with us online.