1. Talk about the money.
Communication is Job One in the survival of any relationship. If you truly plan to share a life, bare your financial soul to your partner, and insist your buddy tell you everything.
2. Create a budget.
You need to be on the same page about where the money should be going. Then it’s easy to decide what to buy and when. You simply ask, “Where does this fit in the budget?” Work together to make room, cutting a little of her golfing and his beer-with-the-boys to come up with the money.
3. Don’t put one guy in charge.
When one mate is excluded or totally abdicates responsibility things can get messy. Your partner might sail your love-boat onto a reef or grow resentful at always having to do the detail. You should each feel involved in the big financial decisions and understand the day-to-day details.
4. Face up to your debt.
If you can’t be debt free when you hook up, at the very least you should have is a plan for getting there. Never sign for each other’s debt. If your buddy needs help pay off the debt, do it without putting your name on the paperwork.
5. Talk about your dreams and your goals.
Whether you want to own your own home, start a family or go into business for yourself, you need to break your goal down into manageable steps.
6. Build in some fun-money.
Consider allotting each partner weekly or monthly fun-money that can be used for anything that body desires.
7. Plan for emergencies.
Without a stash of cash at the ready to deal with whatever life throws at you, you won’t have the means to cope. Have enough cash available to cover six months’ worth of essential living expenses.
8. Maintain your financial independence.
That idea of independence makes some people want to duck and hide behind words like love, trust, honour and team. But independence doesn’t negate any of those things. It enhances them because each and every day you’re choosing to be together. Keep your own financial ID by having your own credit history and savings.
9. Talk to your HR department.
Reassess what’s available to you now that you’re a family. Update your beneficiary designations for your insurance policies and retirement accounts.
10. Check your insurance.
Marriage indicates “stability” and can have a positive effect on your auto insurance rates. Combine all your insurance with one carrier and you’ll pay less.
11. Make or update your Wills & PoAs.
If you don’t have a Will, its time to make one. Ditto Powers of Attorney for both financial and personal care. Your spouse doesn’t have the right to speak for you unless you give him/her that right.
12. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Marriage is tough enough. Don’t spend your relationship getting your britches in a knot over every little thing. If the small stuff adds up to big problems it’s usually because you don’t have a budget and aren’t on the same page when it comes to your priorities.
About the Author
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is the former host of Till Debt Do Us Part and Princess and the #1 bestselling author of books that have included Debt-Free Forever and Money Rules.