With Joe and I being newlyweds, money is a really hot topic lately. I’ve always had my money stuff handled…I’d get a paycheck every two weeks, and I knew exactly which bills had to be paid. Now throw in all of Joe’s stuff, a new mortgage, Christmas, our honeymoon, and well, I have zero idea if we’re going to be able to afford groceries next week.
Handling money issues as a couple can be challenging, no doubt about it. It can make you lose sleep, and cause a few gray hairs. But the good news is that there are definitely some things that can make all this grown-up stuff a whole lot easier, and with good communication, you and your partner will be good to go!
1. Understand Where You’re At
Before you do anything, take some time to thoroughly assess how you’re doing financially. Look at your checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts… basically look at all the money you’ve got between the both of you. Then, identify all of your debts. Car loans, home loans, student loans, the $10k you still owe on your credit card. Make sure you capture it all. Because without a good understanding of how your assets compare to your debts, there’s no way you’ll be able to make sound financial decisions going forward.
2. Create a Budget
I know you hear about this one all the time… make a budget…make a budget…make a budget. So annoying! But as annoying as it is, DO IT! Find an easy budget template and sit down together to document how much money is coming in vs. all the bills you have on a monthly basis. Now that Joe and I are married, it’d be tempting for me to be like, “Yes! I have more money to spend since we’re combining salaries!” but no, that would be a huge mistake because we still have tons of bills to pay. More than ever, actually.
Joe and I made a budget right before we bought our house, and I kind of wanted to cry. After looking at what we bring in each month and subtracting all of our monthly expenses, we didn’t have a whole lot left for discretionary spending. You know, it’s surprising, you don’t typically think too much about small monthly fees, but when you take a real look at them, they really add up quick! Bank fees…storage fees…Netflix…Hulu…so putting these all on one big old spreadsheet is definitely helpful, and helps you really understand how much money you can spend on each of the many different things you’ve got going on in your life.
3. Review Your Budget Together Frequently
Now that you’ve made a budget, you need to actually look at it every once in a while! What good would it be if you just made one and then never looked at it again? You’d be surprised how often that happens. So keep it on your desktop or print it out and put it on your fridge, but make sure it’s someplace visible so it’s always on your mind.
On a side note, a lot of people will review their budgets on a monthly basis. I say, that’s not often enough. I like to look at our budget on a weekly basis to see how we’re doing. If we didn’t spend too much the first and second weeks of the month, then I know we can splurge a little at the end of the month and go to a nice restaurant or something. But if we spent a whole lot, on the other hand, then I know it’s ham and cheese sandwiches for five days straight.
But regardless of how often you look at your budget, make it fun! Go out on a coffee date with your partner and review your budget over coffee. Or go grab some ice cream! This shouldn’t be a painful process. It should be something you do as a team to keep you on track.
4. Be Honest About Your Spending Habits
We’re all guilty of it. I’ve gone out shopping during lunch, and I’ve hid all the stuff I bought somewhere Joe wouldn’t see it (sorry, babe!) I mean, I could easily go to the ATM, take out $50, go spend it on clothes, and then later say I spent it on food, right? I COULD do that, but no!!! That’s not going to benefit anyone. Managing your finances as a couple is hard enough. Throw some lies into the mix and that’ll make it so much worse. So be honest with your partner about where your money’s actually going. That’ll let you know where you’re doing okay, and where you need to cut back a bit.
5. Have a Secret Stash
I don’t keep all my money in the bank. I’ve always had a secret stash. Not a secret stash that I don’t tell Joe about, but a secret stash as in it’s there, but we don’t really use that money for anything. Whenever I find myself with cash in my wallet, I take the cash and put it in our secret stash. When I went to count it a few weeks ago, I was super happy, because we had managed to build a nice emergency fund. Part of being prepared to handle finances as a couple is knowing that sooner or later your car will break down or your a/c will break, or your roof will start leaking, (YAY for being an adult) and you’ll be a lot happier if you have an emergency fund to help you deal with those disasters.
6. Have Something To Work Towards
When you’re trying to save money and cut back on costs, it makes it easier if you know WHY you’re doing it. It makes it easier if as a couple, you’re working towards something. For example, if you’re trying to cut back on shopping expenses, it’s easier to do that if you know that you’re working towards saving some cash for a weekend cruise. Let’s see…three extra shirts I don’t need, or $50 closer to our cruise? For sure I’m picking the cruise. Or how about rewarding yourselves if you reach specific goals? How about a nice romantic dinner for two if you manage to save $250 a month? There’s nothing like the motivation of fun trips and nice meals to keep you focused on your financial goals as a couple.
7. Don’t Forget To Take Care of The Serious Stuff
Now that Joe and I are married, there are tons of adult stuff that we’ve had to start thinking about. Things like life insurance and retirement plans. And while we haven’t really put too much thought into things like that in the past, we’re now finally at the point where we have no choice but to think about them, because these things matter. We’re a family now, and we want to make sure that we make the best decisions for our family. Don’t know much about life insurance? Allstate’s got a really cool financial calculator to help you determine how much life insurance you need. You can also schedule some time to meet with an actual Allstate agent to go over some of this stuff. That’s exactly what Joe and I will be doing, because hey…we’re new at this! We’ve never been married before, and there’s no handbook that comes with being married. We’re a little clueless in most of these matters, but that’s okay. Lucky for us, there are people out there who do this for a living, and they’re more than willing to help us out. So don’t be shy! Find an Allstate agent near you, and tackle all this serious stuff together!
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. Allstate is here to help protect your firsts and the moments in between. Share your firsts with #HeresToFirsts.
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