Financial stress is a significant cause of marital disagreement and divorce. So if you are recently married, handling money well as a couple should be a big focus right now. Because nothing says “I love you” like a brand new debit card.
As you embark on your marital journey, here are seven money tips to help you get started on the right foot:
- Get joint accounts. I am really big on this one. Joint accounts communicate trust and commitment. Couples should pool together their finances as much as possible. It is best for your marriage and your financial picture. Pooling finances raises the level of accountability and responsibility. At the very minimum, there should be no account to which the other does not have access.
- Make joint money decisions. When you were single, your money decisions primarily affected one person—you. Now that you are married, your money decisions have ramifications, not just for you, but your spouse as well. Limit arguments about money by first consulting with one another. And one of the first money decisions you make together needs to be determining a budget.
- Stop saying “my.” In marriage, it is not “my money” and “my expenditures” but “our money” and “our expenditures.” Language is important. It communicates your understanding of the marriage. When God created marriage, He intended it to be an all-in deal. It is two becoming one. Use language that reflects your unity.
- Make giving a priority. God has a design for your marriage, and you should pursue it. He also has a design for your money. God has designed us to be conduits through which His generosity flows. What better way to start managing your finances as a couple than to agree to make giving a priority? A great way to start is by setting aside a portion of each paycheck for your local church.
- Create an emergency fund. I know. Life is good right now and you do not need anything else other than one another. And I am genuinely happy for you. But there will come a time when financial struggles arise. You may lose your job. You may get hit with unexpected medical expenses. Now is a great time to prepare for the inevitable financial emergency. After you give, put a part of each paycheck into a savings account. Try to save between 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses.
- Open a retirement account. If your company provides a match for their 401(k), take full advantage of it. If your company does not provide a match or does not even offer a retirement account, open up a Roth IRA. Set up monthly contributions to your Roth IRA either from your paycheck or checking account. If both you and your spouse are working, you can open up one for each of you. In 2016, you can contribute up to $5,500 in each account.
- Find financial role models. Preferably a retired couple that has managed their money well over several years, if not decades. They have accomplished two things that you need to accomplish—retirement and staying married. They will be much better role models than your peers who are trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Money decisions will be with you for your entire marriage. Don’t ignore or put off financial discussions with your spouse. Developing healthy financial habits will benefit your marriage. Love your spouse enough to start developing good financial habits today.