In three months, Joe and I will be celebrating our one year wedding anniversary. God, it’s crazy how time flies, right?! But let me tell you something, it’s been the best year yet. It’s super corny, I know, but. I absolutely ADORE old-person married life!
Now as good as it’s been, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any challenges. That’s what adulting is, after all…a whole bunch of challenges thrown in your face to solve. For Joe and I, we’ve been trying really hard to focus on managing our finances, and on most days, it’s been a headache and a half.
When Joe and I were dating, things were easy. We rented a small apartment, had very little expenses, and our accounts were all separate, so as long as I remembered to pay my car loan, insurance, cell phone, and credit card, I was good! I knew exactly how much money I had at any given time, and I knew exactly how much was coming in. I also wasn’t spending a whole lot, so I just got to watch my bank account grow. It was nice while it lasted.
As soon as Joe and I got married, our finances completely changed. For starters, we bought a house, and we now had a new thing called a mortgage. It was double what we were used to paying in rent, and it also didn’t include things like utilities and cable. So we had bigger bills and more bills than we were used to, and for a while I wanted to cry every day.
With the new house came a new credit card to pay for furniture. We bought a whole bunch of things we needed to furnish our new home, but at least that credit card is zero percent interest for three years, so we have some time to pay it off. But we also found ourselves with about $5,000 in credit card debt from wedding stuff and our honeymoon. Again, not the kind of bills I was used to.
When we got married we also combined our bank accounts, and that was a game-changer for me. At first, I couldn’t deal with it. There was too much going on, too much movement of money, and it was hard for me to keep track of how we were doing. I’m slowly getting the hang of it, but I can’t say it’s been easy. With so many more bills to keep track of, we’ve definitely been guilty of missing payments and thinking we have more money than we do.
Point is, it’s complicated. It’s not easy to effectively manage your finances, and I can certainly see why some people just give up or don’t even try. But while it’s not simple to do, it’s absolutely necessary, especially during that first year as a married couple. Because if you don’t, trust me, you’ll start heading down a particular path very quickly, and two years from now you’ll realize that you don’t like where it’s going.
So that’s what this year has looked like for us…we’ve been trying to sort all this out. We’ve been sorting out bills, and savings, and trying to figure out how much we can spend on things we enjoy. We’ve been thinking about things like retirement, and figuring out where we can cut back, because another thing I did this year was change careers, something that cost me a $10,000 pay cut.
Fun stuff this whole adulting thing is, huh? But I promise, you’ll get through it. We’re smart young people with our whole lives ahead of us, and with a little bit of financial planning, we can make the most out of our future. So here are a few things I’d recommend doing during your first year as a married couple, to get your finances started on the right foot.
1. Figure out how you’re doing
You can’t really develop a financial game plan until you know where you actually stand, so I’d definitely recommend sitting down and having a total finance debrief. I’m talking about figuring out what all your assets are, what liabilities you owe, that kind of thing. Student loans, car payments, retirement accounts, have a state-of-the-union address for your finances as a couple. Joe and I did this several times, but the time that it actually got through to us was when we used SUM180, an online financial planning service. SUM180 allowed us to answer a whole bunch of questions about our finances, and produced a personalized plan for us. That’s right. Not only did it tell us how we were doing, but it also told us what we could be doing better. Which brings me to #2.
2. Develop A Game Plan
It’s easy to see how much debt you have. You can take a look at all your credit card statements, add all your student loan debt to it, and there you go! You have $20,000 in debt or whatever your number is. But listen to me…if you don’t make a game plan, you won’t make any progress. You’ll just say “Whatever, I’ll take care of it eventually. Eventually it’ll get paid off.” If that’s your thought process, you’re in for a world of hurt my friends, because it’s gunna cost you in the long run. You want to develop a strategy for paying off everything you own, so one of the things that I loved the most about my SUM180 plan was that it laid out all of our credit card debt, and told us exactly how much we should be paying every month on each card to pay the least amount of interest and to get them paid within the next 9 months.
3. Make Decisions Together
Although I was used to making financial decisions for myself before I was married, I now definitely consult with Joe before making any big purchases. Sure, I want a Kate Spade purse every time I see one at the mall, but I won’t buy one unless we’ve had a conversation about it. Maybe that sounds lame, but I’m working just as hard as my hubby is, and if he were to come home having bought $300 headphones without talking to me about it first, I’d be pretty upset. We have to prioritize the things we spend money on, and I like to think that the best way to do that is together.
4. Create An Emergency Fund
When Joe and I bought our new house, it was really tempting to just spend every penny that we had saved in the bank. There were so many pretty things that I wanted to buy, but I definitely held back because I wanted to make sure that we still had a bit of a cushion in our savings account to serve as an emergency fund. What’s an emergency fund? It’s a little bit of money that we keep set aside for those days when sh*t happens. Your A/C might break. Your car might need new tires. You might slice your finger open and end up in the emergency room. Things happen, and if you’re not prepared, you’ll just find yourself putting all these expenses on another credit card, incurring interest by the minute. That’s NOT what you want to do, so you want to make sure you’ve got a little bit of “just in case money.” It’ll help you sleep better at night. At least it does for me.
5. Create A Budget
It doesn’t have to be super fancy, it doesn’t have to be something you spend hours on every week, but create a simple budget. If you don’t know where your money’s going, you’re gunna have a really hard time making important life decisions. You need to know how much money you’re spending on food, and you need to know what bills you need to pay every month. You also need to know how much money you can afford to be saving for retirement. But without a budget, you won’t know any of that. Joe and I have been studying our budget over this past year, and we’ve been able to see that we can save some money by packing our lunches, and by holding back on our online shopping.
So there you have it. That’s some of the financial advice I’d give to anyone, but particularly to newlyweds. Sure, it’s not always fun and romantic to talk about money, but you know what’s also not romantic? Being broke and living under a bridge.
Best of luck to all of you, and be sure to head on over to SUM180 for more financial advice!
As a special introductory offer, take advantage of 50% off a SUM180 subscription by using promo code SIMPLE50 (Offer good through December 2016)!
This post has been sponsored by SUM180. I was provided with product at no charge to sample in exchange for my review. The options expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with SUM180 and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.
Looking for one-on-one career counseling? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Know anyone who could use some career advice?
Want the first 10 pages sent straight to your inbox? SUBSCRIBE HERE
Other stuff you might like:
- Generation Y Redefines Success
- How To Be Rich in Your Twenties
- The 5 Most Valuable Lessons Grad School Taught Me
- Pursue a Lifestyle, Not a Job
- Why It’s Okay to Be Excited About the Awesome Stuff You’re Doing
- Why We Need to Get Over Our Fear of Rejection
- Don’t Wait, Be Happy Now
- The 5 Best Investments You Can Make in College
Follow me on:
*Affiliate links are included in this post.
START YOUR OWN BLOG TODAY WITH BLUEHOST!