By Barbara Pronin
Before the ink is dry on your wedding thank you notes, you will be faced with a host of new decisions – many of which, sensitive or not, have to do with managing money.
From Utah financial counselor Mark Helgeson, here are six basic steps for starting married life on sound – and unified – financial footing:
Agree on the basics – If you haven’t already discussed money issues, get them out in the open. Discuss how you feel about debt, savings, and spending, and try to reach a reasonable agreement about how your money will be disbursed.
Create a budget – A budget should be zero-based, meaning income minus all household expenses (including savings and investing) should equal zero. Every dollar should be accounted for and put somewhere. Whatever you decide to do, do it together, stick to your plan, and talk monthly about the budget.
Include personal spending money – Adjust your budget so that each of you has a bit of discretionary money. Whether you use it to buy that camera you want or to send flowers to your spouse, everyone should have the means to make a few personal choices.
Be transparent – Both of you should have equal access to all accounts, passwords, and user names. Your accounts should be joint accounts. Having separate accounts opens the door to dishonesty. You should both know without fail what’s going on with household finances
Start an emergency fund – Having one in place will give your relationship the security it needs to make it through difficult times. Decide together how much you can afford each month to start your fund going – and stick to it.
Work to get rid of debt – Debt can eat away at a relationship. If one or both of you came into the marriage with credit card or other debt, make a plan to pay it off as soon as possible – even if you need to sacrifice in the short-term to make that happen.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.