Congratulations on getting married! Your first experience as a newlywed is learning that everything that was “mine” is now “ours”. This includes sharing your bathroom, your television and yes… your money! Each of you will now learn the other’s personal habits, (hint for guys: Don’t use the nice hand towels in the bathroom, they are for decoration). And you will also discover that one of you may be better at managing your finances than the other. Studies have shown that the most common reason for divorce is money. Therefore, I want to start your lifetime journey together by listing a few simple tasks that will help improve your financial future.
1. Agree on Financial Goals and Get Organized
It is very important to discuss financial goals with each other in the beginning of your marriage. You should discuss both short term and long term goals. Be specific about your goals and discuss how you can accomplish them together. Remember, communication is the key to ALL successful relationships. Determine who will and how to organize your financial records. You need to come up with a system that you both agree on and can follow. I recommend using personal financial software like Quicken to track your bills and finances. DO NOT make financial goals more complicated than they have to be. Keep it simple and be flexible. As life changes, you and your partner’s needs will change.
2. Budget and Track Expenses
In the past, many families did not budget their expenses and have encountered too much debt as a result. There are many unknown factors that you will face as newlyweds and things can quickly get out of hand if you don’t set a budget. Another good aspect about setting a budget is that it teaches both partners good spending habits early in the relationship. Remember to put your budget in writing as this will help you accomplish your goals. As a married couple you will have different spending patterns than you did previously. Your budget will not be perfect at first. You will need to figure things out and that is where keeping track of your expenses will come in handy. Again, you can use personal finance tools for these tasks. These days, you can even keep track on your smart phone.
3. Plan for a successful retirement future
I cannot stress enough that you and your parnter will need to start saving for retirement as soon as you can. I understand that you have many short-term goals to think about and it’s hard to start an investment account when you are young. However, retirement income is not being provided in the same manner as when your parents and grandparents retired. Today, there are very few pension plans that will offer retirement income and Social Security may not offer you the benefit that you would expect. Therefore, you will NEED to start saving for yourself in order to be successful. The sooner you can invest, the less money you will need to save and the greater your chance of having a comfortable savings amount when you retire. How can you start a savings plan? If you work, allocate as much as you can afford into a 401(k) plan. Most companies match up to 3% of your salary if you contribute. Another great savings account is a Roth IRA. This is an account which grows tax FREE for your retirement. There are income restrictions to Roth deposits so check with your advisor before you consider investing.
You will need to educate yourselves about investing and savings for your future. There are many independent resources (books, magazines, internet sites) to help you. For example, you can obtain articles and links to educational sites if you go to the www.mycarolinawealthreports.com ‘s homepage. Also, make sure that you talk about insurance protection for each of you. Life insurance policies are very important to own for younger couples. They cover debts (like a home mortgage) and are will provide much needed protection when you start to have a family.
Congratulations! You should now be well on your way to building your family net worth and working towards your financial goals. Remember to get your finances organized, set a budget and invest for a successful future. Finally, remember… communication is the key to success! Best wishes.