Financial planning after marriage

Turning Points 3 min read

Financial planning for newly married couples means you’ll need to communicate openly with your new spouse about your finances. These conversations include how you’ll pay off debt, make big purchases, and achieve other goals together in the future. Like anything else in your marriage, you’ll make compromises along the way, but the first step is having a conversation and always keeping those lines of communication open.

How do you start figuring out your finances as a couple? Here are five ways to ensure you are aligned with your partner about money.

How to figure out your newlywed finances

1. Figure out your total debt

If you haven’t talked about your finances as newlyweds, start with your debt, which could include student loans, car loans, credit card debt, and medical debt.

Write it down and discuss how you’ve tackled your debt up until now. Plan and determine the best ways to pay down the debt as quickly as possible. You might pay it together and add more to the minimum payments each month.

The method you choose is up to you, your partner, and your financial situation. Be sure there are no surprises and remember to be open about your debt.

Remember to disclose your credit scores during this debt conversation. If your partner has credit issues, it could prevent you from making big purchases in the future, like a car or house. Use this time to figure out how you or your spouse can improve your credit score.

2. Talk about your money habits

Are you a spender, but your spouse is a saver? By now, you might know your partner’s financial habits, but don’t let your assumptions deter you from having an open discussion.

To start the conversation, ask what your partner learned about money from their parents, how they spent their allowance or their first understanding of money.

3. Create financial goals together

Start listing long-term and short-term money goals you’d like to achieve, from preparing to buy a house or taking your dream vacation. Long-term goals should involve discussing retirement and how much you have saved.

Here are a few examples of short-term goals:

  • Set up a joint savings account.
  • Save three to six months’ worth of expenses for an emergency fund.
  • Pay off your credit card debt.

Here are a few examples of long-term goals:

  • Pay off your student loan debt.
  • Save for a house.
  • Save for retirement.

This is also a good time to discuss whether you should meet with a financial adviser to gain more insight on how to reach your retirement goals.

4. Set a monthly budget

Without a budget to guide you as a couple, you might set the intention to save and spend less but never actually execute it. Once you’ve set your goals, take actionable steps to achieve them.

Hold yourself and your spouse accountable by creating a plan for each day, week, or month. For example, if you have $3,500 of credit card debt, set a goal to stop eating at restaurants and buying lunch and coffee every day. Use the money you save to pay off the debt. Sign up for a free online budgeting tool to track your progress and keep tabs on how much you’re spending.

5. Establish regular check-ins

Create weekly check-ins to discuss finances with your spouse and use this time to review your goals together.

During your regular check-ins, you should talk about changing beneficiaries for your 401(k) plans or IRAs. You could discuss creating a will, reviewing your health insurance, adding your spouse to your car insurance, or buying life insurance. It’s also important to understand your combined net worth.

How will you manage your newlywed finances moving forward?

After you discuss your financial planning after marriage, figure out the mechanics. You should determine if you will have joint checking accounts for bills or maintain separate accounts and who will pay the bills each month.

You still have a lot to learn about each other and will likely undergo many changes in the first few years of your marriage. Having an honest conversation about your finances as newlyweds can help you create a trusting environment to enjoy a happy, satisfied, and fulfilling marriage together.

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