So you recently tied the knot. The day was a fairy tale, and the honeymoon was a dream. Now comes the hard part—living as a married couple in the real world. And that includes managing your finances.
You may think you have it all figured out. After all, you now have someone with whom to split the bills, and you just scored some cash in the form of wedding gifts. Not so fast. Turns out a lot of newlywed couples make some common mistakes that can seriously affect their financial future. Read on for eight ways newly married couples make mistakes with their money (and how to avoid or correct them) so you can live in married AND financial bliss.
1. Not Changing How You Do Your Taxes
While you don’t have to file jointly, it may be beneficial to do so. Get a good estimate using free tax software, like Turbotax. Then be sure to update your W2 withholding forms at work accordingly.
2. Not Discussing Your Financial Goals
One of you wants to start an aggressive savings plan for a down payment on a house. The other has their eye on a vacation. If you don’t discuss these big picture issues when (or ideally before) you say I do, it can spell problems in the future. As in all things in marriage, communication is key.
3. Not Telling The Truth About Your Financial Situation
If one of you has significant credit card debt or will be paying off student loans for the foreseeable future, your partner deserves to know. Similarly, if you’re poised for a windfall from an inheritance or are the recipient of a trust fund, your spouse should be clued in. You’re a team now, so you should have a complete picture of each other’s financial situation.
4. Not Saving
Even if you’re not actively saving toward a particular goal, it’s always wise to have a rainy day fund, which can protect you in case of unemployment or other unforeseen financial emergencies. Experts recommend keeping six months’ worth of living expenses in the bank.
5. Assuming You Will Split Everything 50/50
You’re married, so what’s mine is yours, right? Not necessarily. Many couples find that having money that’s yours, mine and ours is the best way to manage their finances and keep both parties happy. My husband and I each have our own “play” money, in addition to a joint account for shared living expenses. This arrangement certainly keeps me from judging his comic book habit, and he can’t bat an eye at my monthly pedicures.
6. Not Defining Your Roles
Maybe one of you is better at laying out the monthly budget, while the other is a whiz at investment strategy. Team up to make the best of each of your skill sets and make the most of your money.
7. Not Planning For The Future
Retirement may seem light years away, but experts agree that you should start saving for retirement as early as your 20s. If you and your spouse plan on having kids, that’s another big step to financially prepare for.
8. Not Getting Outside Help
Money can be complicated. Sometimes it’s best to bring in an expert. Visiting a certified financial planner can ensure that you resolve any disputes and help you map out your spending and saving strategies.