Once the excitement of the wedding is over and the reality of living together as newlyweds sets in, getting your financial house in order is an absolute must. Finding the right place to start, though, can be overwhelming. These tips can help.
Where are You?
One of the first things you may want to do is understand exactly where you’re at. This should involve looking at what the two of you make each month, then making a detailed list of expenses that you’ll need to deal with. Don’t forget to factor in things like groceries, transportation expenses (bus passes, subway fare, or gas) and day to day living expenses. This process should not only help you understand what you have coming in, but also identify any spots where you’re wasting money as well.
New Financial Needs
In addition to thinking about what you’re already spending money on, you may also have new financial needs to consider. For example, now that the two of you are married, do you need to apply for new health insurance together? What about life insurance? If your spouse has a child, are there childcare expenses you hadn’t previously considered? Add all of those into your monthly budget as well.
Set Both Short and Long Term Goals
Lots of couples just move like zombies from month to month without really planning for their goals, but look ahead five years, then look ahead ten years. Where do you want to be together as a couple? Do you want to own a home? Do you plan to have children? Are there investments you need to make right away? Looking down the line a bit will help you set aside money for the future each month.
Flexibility and Fun
Once you set your financial goals, though, don’t assume they’re set in stone forever. Make sure you both reevaluate at least once a year, but maybe even every six months to ensure you’re on track to meeting your dreams and dealing with the reality of financial life together. Also, make sure there’s a little room in your budget for fun. Your first years as newlyweds should be spent making memories that will last a lifetime…so be sure to add a vacation or life experience to your list of goals!