You’re brand new to the married life; you’re just learning how to share your life with another person. You learn to share the remote, to make enough coffee for two, and to say “husband” or “wife” during introductions. Even if you’ve lived together before marriage, or you’re used to sharing certain things to begin with, there’s a sort of fresh feeling when it comes to being newlyweds. It’s an opportunity to start new and go from being a (technically) single person to being a married person. It’s an opportunity to improve on compassion, understanding, and taking on all obstacles as a team. Not only that, it’s an opportunity to improve your spending habits. Admittedly it’s not a notion as romantic as improving communication or passion, but with financial strain being such a common issue in many marriages, it’s an important opportunity to seize.
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A Fresh Start
Improving your spending habits in your new marriage is perfect because it’s a time for renewal. You’re going from one income to two and blending your finances together, so what better time than now to reevaluate how you’re spending your money and what you could be doing better? Now is a time to lay it all out there for your partner. Discussing your bills and debt is one thing, but it’s another to discuss your spending habits. Talk about how each of you usually spend your extra money, what you’d like to keep the same, and if you think some of it could be reformed. Take this opportunity to get rid of any poor spending habits and learn some responsible spending now that your income is so closely tied to your spouses. Some common financial issues are:
- Not contributing to a savings account
- Not contributing to a retirement account
- Paying debt and bills late
- Relying too much on a credit card
If you’re guilty of any of these common financial missteps, it’s time to communicate that with your partner and fix some of those bad financial habits. Spending money is not a bad thing, you just need to be spending the majority of it in the right places.
Spending for Two (or More)
Improving spending habits is a constant goal that will change based on many different milestones in your life: marriage, children, career change, raise, etc. When you’re married, expecting children, or both, you’ll want to focus your spending on purchases that will benefit your family as a whole and not just one of you. Making purchases that invest in your family and your future is the key to improving where your finances are going each month. Whether it’s homeownership, a family vehicle, or starting a college fund, consider putting your money in a place that will benefit the whole family in one way or another. As long as you’re saving money, paying down debt, and keeping your future in mind when looking at your finances, you’re in a great place to spend money in other ways. The improvement here is taking that opportunity to spend extra money on a family trip or a washer and dryer, instead of spending it on a pair of shoes or a new watch. Not that that’s not okay sometimes, but spending your money with the whole family in mind might replace some of the money spent on yourself more often than not in order to benefit everyone.
Building Credit Together
Even after you’re married, you and your significant other will still have your own personal credit score independent of each other. It’s a common misconception that when you get married your spouse’s credit becomes yours. If you or your spouse has bad credit it may affect you indirectly in terms of qualifying for loans or if you’re divorced, but credit can be repaired. Even if both of you have good credit, there’s no harm in working together to make it even better. Use your new marriage as an opportunity to use your spending and financial habits to improve upon your credit score and help your spouse’s as well. A few ways you can do that are to:
- Become authorized users on each other’s existing credit cards
- Open a joint credit account together
- Budget bill and credit debt payments into each month’s expenses
- Schedule spending on your credit card each month that will benefit you both
How you go about building credit together really depends on each situation. For instance, you don’t want to open too many accounts and throw a wrench in your credit utilization ratio. However you choose to build credit, do it in a way that can help the both of you. For tips and guides on how you can build credit as a couple, visit our credit score resource center.
Planning for Financial Goals
In the same way that you should sit down with your spouse and discuss any improvements in spending you’d like to make, you should also discuss your financial goals. Now that you and your spouse have dual income, your financial goals may be more attainable than they once were. Discuss your future homeownership goals, any furthering education aspirations, small business ventures you’d like to try, or places you’d like to travel. In using your marriage as a starting point for you and your spouse to improve your spending habits, you can start looking into the future of your finances and the long-term spending rewards as a result of responsible budgeting. Whether your financial goals are to sail around the world, make real estate investments, or simply to just retire, make a plan for meeting those goals. Making irresponsible decisions with finances is not unheard of. In fact, many of us have had our issues with money whether it be over spending, under saving, or paying bills late. When you’re married, your finances don’t just impact you anymore, so it’s time to take your marriage as an opportunity to improve spending habits. This might mean correcting poor financial habits, or improving good financial habits, but at the core it’s making financial decisions that will benefit your marriage as a whole. So build your credit, plan for your future goals, and share the remote – it’s you two against the world.
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