July 10, 2019, was an exciting day for our family. Anna, our oldest daughter, got engaged to her college sweetheart while on our family vacation. As we go on planning for the big day in March, I keep thinking of telling my daughter all the things I wish I’d done differently. I want my daughter and her husband to make smart financial decisions. I want them to have a better start than my husband and I. As parents, we have plenty of advice, but if we’re honest, our children are more likely to listen to their peers about success and failure. With that in mind, I decided to crowdsource recommendations on financial struggles and success. I spoke with couples in their twenties and thirties about the financial challenges they faced as newlyweds.
Here are Some of the Suggestions I Received:
The most important thing is to make a budget and communicate regularly about your progress. You don’t know how much you are spending until you break it down and keep track of it. In doing so, you can set money aside for future expenses. Once you’re in the habit, discuss your budget every month and make updates as needed. Make sure to evaluate all of your service subscriptions too. It can be easy to let unseen monthly expenditures sneak up on you. In addition, don’t be afraid to seek advice and guidance from financial professionals. There are many courses available online for learning fiscal responsibility and countless free podcasts as well. One of the more popular financial coaches I heard about is Dave Ramsey, whose envelope method has worked for countless couples.
Finances can hold power over people, especially a couple. Financial stress is one of the top 5 problems that newlyweds face. By budgeting together early on, and having effective communication, you can avoid that pressure. Social media makes us prone to envy, but understanding what you can and can’t afford is a vital part of responsible finance. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to afford a certain vacation or item of clothing. Living within your means can relieve pressure between you and your spouse, and ease your mental health.
While these were the major themes, I got plenty of other ideas from the people I interviewed. Here are some more of their tips:
- Before getting married, get a clear picture of the amount of debt you have as a couple.
- Create a one-year, five-year, and ten-year plan, then work together to stay on track.
- Set aside a percentage of your earnings to put into savings each month.
- Pay off student loan debt as soon as possible.
- Understand the spending dynamic between you and your spouse. Is one of you passionate about saving? Do you agree on what to spend money on? Best to keep the lines of communication open and avoid labeling your spouse a spender or a saver. This can affect the way you structure your budget.
- Don’t let one person bare the financial responsibility – work together and keep an open dialogue.
- While credit cards are often necessary – they can be dangerous if you are not disciplined in keeping up with your payments. Take careful consideration before using them, and do the proper research to find out which cards offer the best rewards for your family.
- Prioritize your spending on things that hold their value, such as investments in stocks and real estate.
- You don’t have to spend money to be of service. Donate your time, rather than your money, whether to your church, favorite charity or organization.
- Be patient – you and your spouse are sure to have different perspectives about money based on your respective upbringings.
The most important things to remember are to have honest communication and be open to guidance from others in order to make the best decisions for your future. Don’t make decisions based on what you see others doing. You can have fun and make wonderful memories without spending a fortune. All it takes is a little creativity and planning.