Now that your honeymoon is over and you have started your married life with your husband or wife it is time to start thinking about your mutual financial life, together. Your once separate finances are now one. The both of you will need to handle credit and finances together from here on out. I have a few tips to help make this transition easier on both you and get you both set off on the road to a successful financial future together.
You both should start your new married life together by obtaining all 3 of your credit reports, both of you. You both want to find any mistakes or errors on your credit reports. If you are the bride you will want to update the credit reporting agencies right away on your new name change. You both want to know where each others credit scores are so that you both know what areas could use the most attention. Both of your credit scores will effect the other.
You should keep open all accounts that you had before your marriage. Many newly wed couples make the mistake of closing out accounts once married thinking that they only need X amount of accounts or credit cards. Yet closing accounts can actually lower your credit score and may even lead to having a thin file. You can add your spouse as a joint account holder to accounts with good interest rates and slowly over time close down high interest accounts. You should keep a few accounts that are in your name only as sadly in life bad things happen like death and divorce. Keeping a few accounts open in your name only provides you with a layer of protection should something unfortunate happen.
You should also be mindful of new accounts. Many newly weds get carried away and open up far to many accounts, from credit cards, lines of credit to store accounts. This can impact not only your credit score but also your budget and finances. My advice is to go slow with new accounts and get accustomed to having your finances co-joined and budgeting together.
Now is the time to sit down together and discuss financial goals. Do the two of you want to own your dream home together or continue to rent for awhile? If you plan to go for a home together how will you get there? What is your plan to tackle the down payment? Will the both of you save together to buy points on the mortgage to lower your overall interest rate? Do the two of you wish to invest money into money making investments to secure your future? If so what type of investments can the two of you agree on and most importantly how will the two of you fund these investments?
Now that your mutual goals and expectations have been laid out some the most important part of your mutual financial life together, planing a budget. Your mutual budget will be the corner stone of your financial life together. Without a budget savings will fail, debts will rack up and you will have trouble saving for a rainy day fund and even investing will be harder. The good news is since you are now married the cost of living is lower now for you both since you are both sharing mutual expenses such as rent or a mortgage, utilities and other such costs of living. What does this mean? It means you both should be able to start racking money away towards the goals you both discussed, but you still need a budget to follow to get there.
Try and visit websites that are loaded with financial advice (bankrate, mint, americaschoice, bank of america, credit, nerd wallet, money crashers, suze orman, dave ramsey) that you and your spouse can take advantage of to secure a better financial future together.
Richard Evers is a certified financial planner with Raymond James