Monday, January 30, 2012

Newlywed Week: The Best Way to Handle Finances

On what we consider a very productive Sunday (cleaning, grocery shopping, fun shopping, and a run), we found ourselves stumped on what we should blog about this week. We can only post so many photos of our condo, wedding things, or random fun things we find online.

(Also, what do you think of our new banner? We think this is the permanent one.)

So this week we decided to do a series of "newlywed" related pieces. There are so many little things that you experience after getting married that you never anticipate. That's not a bad thing — it's what makes life interesting!

Today's piece is about one of the biggest things that new married couples must deal with — money. Here are a few rules that Erin and I have followed:
  1. Be Completely Honest (of course, be honest in all aspects of your life at all times). Any and all debt must be laid out there right from the beginning. Whatever debt is out there, dramatic or minimal, sit down and make a plan on how you will pay it off.
  2. The $150 rule. Or the $100 rule. Or maybe even the $50 rule — depending on your financial situation. During each pay period (based on a traditional pay period on the 15th and last day of the month), both people have an opportunity to buy something for themselves or whomever, with no questions asked from their spouse. Now, obviously there are also limits. It's kind of an unspoken rule that you can't go out and buy something unnecessary whenever a paycheck comes in. Be responsible. For purchases over the decided limit, you have to consult your spouse.
  3. Have separate bank accounts. But also have a joint account for monthly bills. Remember though, just because you have your own bank account, doesn't mean the $150 rule can be broken. Really, for us at least, the separate bank account is more of a convenience for both people.
  4. Budget. After a few weeks of living together, you start to see, almost immediately, what your weekly expenses entail. After a month, sit down and map out your income and your expenses. Marriage is kind of like running a small business. Make sure your expenses don't outweigh your income.
Everything money-related comes down to one thing: Honesty. It might be hard to deal with, but it's going to be harder to deal with when your finances become backed up because either of the spouses didn't mention a hitch in the chain. It's much easier to deal with a problem from the get-go.

Some other interesting newlywed reading that is financial-related.

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