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Managing Your Money after Marriage: How to Handle Your Finances, Credit, and New Life Together
So you finally found the love of your life and tied the knot. Chances are that finances are the last thing you want to think about right now, but setting clear financial goals for the future is more important than ever as you and your spouse start your new life together. Making the right decisions now will stave off a multitude of future problems.
1. Start by Adding Up Your Assets and Debts
To create a financial road map for the future, you need to begin with precisely where you are now. That means accounting for all of your assets and debts. Your assets include things like what you have in bank accounts, along with any equity you have in real estate holdings and what’s in you and your spouse’s retirement accounts. Your debts include things like outstanding student loans, credit card payments and your current mortgage if you have one. Depending on the amount of debt you share, you may want to think about debt consolidation to help pay off your debts more quickly.
2. Don’t Be Tempted to Overspend
Assuming that both you and your spouse are working, you’ll probably have more income than you did before you were married. Even with this change in income, you have to avoid the temptation to overspend on things you don’t really need. After all, there’s a good chance that children will soon be a part of the mix, and you’ll need that extra cash to support them. Moreover, there are always unforeseen expenses, like medical bills, for which the additional money will be necessary. The best rule of thumb is even though you are now combining salaries, you should create a lifestyle based on just one.
3. Invest in the Future
Your marriage is a lifelong commitment, and you need to make financial decisions that will hold up over the long haul. The best thing you can do with extra cash is spend it in places where it will grow over time—retirement accounts and insurance. When it comes to retirement, don’t make the mistake of thinking what you get from Social Security will be enough to support you in your golden years. You’ll need to supplement that income with your retirement account. A good rule of thumb is to contribute as much as you can, preferably at least 10 percent of your gross income every month. You should also invest in good life insurance plans for both you and your spouse. These are income sources you’ll be glad you have down the road.
Being happily married is one of life’s principal blessings, but so is financial security. Research shows that married couples argue more about money than anything else. To keep your marriage happy and healthy throughout your life together, make decisions now that will pay off in the long run.
Marriage is an important milestone, and it’s not one to be taken lightly. Take a look at our Marriage page for more financial information on all things marriage.