Call it marriage advice or just good financial advice for anyone, but to be financially happy as a couple, you must first be financially happy alone. You need to understand where your finances are currently, where you want them to be and then plan a way to get them there – hopefully BEFORE your wedding day.
A good place to start understanding your current financial situation is by looking at how you got here. Get a copy of your credit reports from all three reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). There is a difference between annualcreditreport.comand freecreditreport.com. Review your report; if you find any errors, get them fixed. Even if your credit has not affected you as of yet, it will in the long run. You may not think that this is even necessary now, but it really is good financial marriage advice as you need credit to buy a home, take out a loan, buy a car and for many other reasons. Be prepared to share your report with your future spouse. Being upfront and honest is important marriage advice all the time and includes money matters! Your financial past and present will shape the financial future for you and your spouse.
After you have a firm grasp on your credit history, start looking at your current spending habits. Expert financial marriage advice shows personal saving and spending habits are a reflection of what we were taught while growing up and will likely be a predictor of how you will continue to spend and save. So many times these can be WAY different for a new couple starting out. Follow these financial marriage advice steps to gain an awareness of your spending versus saving habits. If you have extra money do you tend to save it or spend it? If you are unsure, then good financial marriage advice says track everything you purchase (cash or credit) for an entire month. This will show you if you are living within your means, if you are saving money, or if you tend to splurge on small items that you don’t really need. Your habits will no longer just affect you. If you overspend or are a “shopaholic”, you can leave your partner financially unstable as well as yourself and any others brought into the picture. When you look at it like the new dress or video game vs. your marriage, it is a whole different view!
By closely tracking your spending you’ll get a better idea of how you have spent in the past and how you are spending currently. After tracking your spending, did you find that you are living outside of your means? If so, maybe you need to cut certain things out or pick up an extra job. How much and what kinds of debt do you have? If you have debt, start making a plan to pay if off ASAP (preferably before your wedding day). Do you have a savings account? Do you invest? If you invest, how do you prefer to manage your assets? These are all important questions to ask and answer in order to help bring your complete financial picture into focus. Sounds overwhelming for a little financial marriage advice? It can be. As with any good marriage advice, start with a small piece and work from there.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson will continue to give great financial marriage advice by talking money skills for newlyweds every month in Indiana Bride Magazine. Visit www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com for more money savvy tips and marriage advice all month long!