When you finally get married, you feel like you're on the top of the world, but you'll also need to quickly get on top of your finances. As a newly married couple, you now share everything: your life, love and money. To prepare for marital bliss, you should consider getting together with your spouse and making a budget for expenses and start thinking about your financial situation as a couple.
Here are the steps to making a budget as newlyweds:
1. Outline Your Goals
When planning the rest of your life with your better half, you should have an idea of what the next step is. Better yet, have a one-year, five-year or even longer plan. Discuss your financial goals, whether that's paying off your credit card debt or saving for those all-important life stages like buying a house or having children. You may have different ideas of what you want to accomplish within your selected time period, but at least you'll have a head start on where you want to be.
2. Calculate Income
After talking about your goals, the next step is to figuring out how to pay for it all. Combine both of your monthly wages or salaries to calculate your annual household income. Consider both your gross income and your take home pay (minus taxes, contributions to retirement, etc.). It could also help to consider what your household income is per month as this could aid in visualizing how much you have when breaking down your monthly expenses.
3. Add Up Expenses
Since married life usually means living under the same roof, you'll most likely have to adjust your budget for living expenses. Now that you're not paying for cable or rent individually, you'll have to put together your expenses. Consider the following categories for your newlywed budget:
- Medical Bills
Leave room in your budget for miscellaneous items like haircuts. Setting aside money for an emergency fund to pay for sudden car break downs or other expenses could also be in your calculations. Finally, account for any loans or debts you have like student loans or credit card balances you need to pay off each month.
4. Decide How You Will Pay for Bills
Now that you've got your budget, you also need to decide the method for how you will pay for bills, either together or individually. Have a serious discussion with your loved one about joint bank accounts. You have the option of merging your assets together with a joint bank account or keeping separate bank accounts. There are positives and negatives to both scenarios. With a joint bank account, you could pool your money to more easily withdraw the funds needed for large expenses like furniture or mortgage payments. On the other hand, an individual bank account could help you make sure you know exactly where your income is going and not allow any one person to have control over your marital assets.
5. Stick With Your Budget
Whether you're young newlyweds – or even if you've had some great years behind you – sticking to your budget is crucial for your financial future. Couples often fight about money but following a budget could help prevent some of the stress with managing finances. To ensure you are staying within your budget, download apps to link to your bank account and track your spending. These apps might also come with alerts that notify you if you are getting close to exceeding your monthly allowance or spending too much on any one category in your budget. You could also set up automatic bill pay for your monthly bills to avoid paying late fees.