So, you’ve just gotten married! Congratulations! Once you and your new spouse have eaten the last bit of wedding cake or returned from your honeymoon, now comes the time to tackle together the nitty-gritty of living under one roof.
Apart from learning to share personal spaces, juggle each other’s schedules, and discovering each other’s quirks, there is also the slightly uncomfortable task of dealing with money.
For a lucky few, there is a smooth transition from managing one’s finances as a single adult to co-managing with a spouse. Sadly, for many couples, money and budget become a source of stress during the adjustment to married life.
Nowadays there are several ways for you two to make this transition easier, and perhaps lessen the chances of arguing as to who accidentally wrote that check which bounced, or worse.
1| Have the Money Discussion Early On.
One essential talk that couples must have, even before getting engaged, is about finances. Apart from disclosing net paychecks, inheritances, and other sources of income, it is important for you and your partner to be upfront about debts, ongoing investments, and any other expenses being brought into the marriage. You must also discuss what financial arrangements they will adopt once they are married. These include, but are not limited to:
- Discussing whether to open a joint checking account or maintain separate accounts
- Deciding on dependents and beneficiaries on insurance policies, health plans and cards
- Setting goals for savings and investments: businesses and enterprises, property such as condos and houses, cars, educational plans, retirement plans, etc.
2| Meet with a Financial Advisor.
Chances are you have a friend, or a friend of a friend who is already working as a financial advisor for a bank or large company. Now is a good time to invite that person out for coffee or dinner with you and your partner and get the lowdown on the state of your finances and the options you have for maintaining or growing your money.
A financial advisor can help you navigate complicated financial terminologies, decide how much of your budget you can set aside for savings and investments, and help you access your investment options of choice. The fee for a few sessions of financial advising is worth being spared the headache of doing things via trial and error!
3| Invest Early.
Ideally, every adult would have some sort of investment regardless of relationship status. Investments may be in the form of stocks and shares, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment plans offered by various companies throughout the world.
Investments may also be in the form of property or business enterprises. These ensure having some passive income to bring into your new domestic partnership and having additional assets to build on or utilize in times of need. If you haven’t started investing before getting engaged or married, now is the time to do so.
4| Do the Budget Together.
Making a budget sheet on the computer or filling out an old-fashioned ledger book may not be the first choice of bonding activities, but it is necessary for newlyweds!
The budget must cover groceries, utilities, and rent, as well as allocations for contributions to SSS, Pagibig, Philhealth and other regular payments such as credit cards, health cards, insurance premiums, and property purchases.
It is also a good practice to set aside a fixed portion of the budget for an emergency fund to be utilized only in specific instances (and no, seasonal sales at the mall do not count!)
5| Maintain Good Communication.
Like all plans of mice and men, financial situations and plans can change quickly. Thus, it is important for you and your spouse to communicate well so as to better handle sudden roadblocks and financial surprises. This is important, especially when considering big expenses for the home, or medical care. The last thing you want is a miscommunication that can escalate into a bad financial decision or become a full-blown argument.
Finances can become a serious source of stress for newlyweds, but on the other hand, they can become an avenue to exercise teamwork and communication. We wish you all the best with your future plans!
Katrina Gomez writes insightful personal finance and investment articles for Lamudi Philippines, one of the country’s largest real estate websites.