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9 Essential Tips for Building (Financially) Married Bliss

Do you hear wedding bells? If so, it’s time to think about money – and not just the wedding budget. When it comes to your marriage and finances, what you do now can have a lasting impact on marital happiness.

Back when most people got married right after high school or college, it wasn’t so complicated to build a solid financial foundation for a marriage. Now couples wait longer before getting hitched. This means blending two financial styles and various bank accounts is more complex.
Here are nine tips to help you maintain newlywed bliss as you commingle your finances.
Put it all on the table. It’s important to make sure the excitement of the wedding doesn’t overshadow the reality of joining two separate lives. Be honest with your spouse about your financial situation. Discuss both partners’ income, expenses, debts and assets in detail. The first step in financial planning in knowing what you both have to work with and deciding what’s best for you as a couple.
Decide how to set up your checking and savings accounts. Going from individual accounts to a joint bank account can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. A combination of separate and joint checking and savings accounts can help you maintain some autonomy as you learn to be a couple, money-wise. Joint bank accounts make sense for shared living expenses, while individual accounts allow for a measure of freedom with discretionary spending.
Create a realistic budget. If you’ve always spent whatever you had, creating a budget can be intimidating. But think of a budget as a plan for how you’ll spend money as a household. First, make a list of your monthly essential expenses such as the mortgage or rent, utilities, car note, gas, food, insurance, college loans, entertainment, etc. Not sure where your money is going? Track your spending for a month or two using a personal financial management tool that categorizes your expenses. A clear picture will help you decide how much you need to put in your joint account and how much you can put in your individual spending accounts.
Set savings goals together. When you’re creating your first budget, don’t forget to save something every month. Whether you want to buy a house or a bigger television, working toward joint savings goals can make it easier to stick to your budget. Consider both short-term goals, like a tropical vacation to celebrate your first anniversary, as well as long-term goals such as buying a new car or starting a family.
Plan for the unexpected. One of your first goals should be to set aside enough money for three to six months of living expenses. No one likes to think about issues like medical emergencies, home maintenance, car repairs or accidents, but these are just a few of the reasons why you need cash reserves in savings.
Protect your investments. Purchasing insurance for your home, cars and life can help offset the impact that unexpected events can have on your savings. It’s also a good idea to review your health insurance and any short or long-term disability insurance you may have to make sure the coverage still meets your needs now that you’re a couple.
Secure your future. As you consider your financial life together, don’t forget about retirement. Compound interest is your friend, so the earlier you begin saving, the more your money has a chance to grow. Contributing to workplace retirement accounts is a great place to start, especially if your employer matches your contributions. If you have room in your budget, you can also stash extra retirement savings in individual 401Ks.
Be patient with your partner. Especially if you’ve been living on your own for some time and spending money without consulting anyone else, it can be stressful to work through how you’ll spend and save as a couple. Remember to be open-minded and patient as you run into areas of disagreement. Every couple needs time to find the financial formula that works for their marriage.
Consult an outsider for ideas. Someone outside your family and friends may be able to recommend various options for how you and your partner can best manage your finances. Many religious organizations offer pre-marriage counseling which usually encourages an honest discussion of money. For older couples who are mingling more complicated households with multiple houses, children and existing retirement accounts, a wealth management consultant may prove invaluable.
Financial discussions can be difficult, but with open communication and early planning newlyweds can start off on the right financial foot.
Contact a Cadence banker or wealth management specialist to help guide the conversation and get your marriage and money set up properly.

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