The excitement of wedding planning has come and gone, thank you cards are written, and you can finally take a minute to process the fact that you’re married. So, now what? After you take time to bask in the newlywed light, it’s time to sit down with your S.O. and make a game plan for your financial future to ensure you both are on the same page. Here are some tips and conversation starters to get the ball rolling.
- Discuss Current Debts and Make a Game Plan
The first step is to lay out all your debts on paper: the good, the bad, the ugly. Let’s face it, debt is daunting. Whether it be from credit cards, student loans, car, or mortgage, it’s no walk in the park. There are many resources out there to help you tackle these obstacles. Research options to refinance your student loan debt to get a lower interest rate and decrease your monthly payment. Not only can this save you money in the day-to-day, but it can help you improve your credit score in the long run. Win-win situation!
- Change (Or Add) Your Name
This may seem like an obvious step to take, deciding whether or not to change or add your partner’s last name after marriage. Regardless of what route you choose to take, it’s so much more than going to the DMV and getting a new driver’s license. Here are a few more important documents you need to switch over after you tie the knot:
- Driver’s License
- Social Security Card
- Credit Cards
- Student Loans
- Health Insurance
- Bank Accounts
- Social Media
- Merge Accounts
While it’s not totally required to put your name on all of your accounts and credit cards, it’s still important to sit down and have the discussion. Depending on your partner’s financial history, you might want to merge bank accounts and credit cards, or you might want to keep your finances completely separate. Some accounts you may want to consider merging would be cell phone plans or even gym memberships. A lot of the time they’ll give you a cheaper rate for a family plan.
- Start Tracking your Finances
Once you’ve laid out all of your monthly expenses and debts, it’s time to sit down and create a monthly budget. Tracking your expenses and purchases is a good way to see how much money you’re spending in certain categories. Apps like Mint or Personal Capital help you keep track of all your spending in one place. It makes it easy to see what categories you need to cut back on and where you need to shift your spending, all right on your smartphone!
- Begin Planning for the Future
A marriage is like a well-oiled machine, all of the parts need to be working in order for it to function properly. You and your spouse are a dream team and it’s important to set goals so you two can continue to crush it together. If it’s a goal to crush your student loan debt, save for a house, or even plan to start a family, taking the time to have an open and honest conversation about your future goals can prepare you for the difficult times that lie ahead. If you have a good game plan in place, it can make expecting the unexpected or financial struggles as smooth as can be.