5 Ways to Simplify Finances for Newlyweds
Getting married? You'll hardly be able to guess how many how many expenses and many tasks will be left to do AFTER the wedding. Once a newlywed, simply getting your name changed requires various unbudgeted expenses, not to mention countless hours of your time. Unexpected expenses can really offset your budget, so getting your financial life organized after months of wedding madness should be number one on your list of things to do as a newlywed. This is especially so you can be prepared for unforeseen expenditures, no matter how big or small.
Here are a few ways to get your money and bills in order so you can avoid any unexpected fees AND cut down the time spent on monthly to-dos.
Decide to Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts
My husband and I opened a joint checking account and closed our old accounts. Many couples find it easier to keep separate accounts for personal expenditures and gifts, in addition to a joint account for shared expenses. You and your spouse will need to figure out your spending habits and choose which option is most suitable for you.
However you decide to manage your accounts, it's important to be transparent about your finances. Even if you maintain separate accounts, you share responsibilities now. Be open about your individual finances so you can make informed decisions as a household.
Combine Household Finances
You can save on combining your cell phone bills since plans usually have a base price you are required to pay even if you don’t reach the maximum number of minutes every month. If your provider offers it, you could even combine your cell phone, internet, cable, and home phone bill--that’s 4 expenses in one!
Other areas where you may be able to combine plans or expenses:
- Health insurance
- Car, home, and life insurance
- Streaming subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, Spotify, etc.)
Assess Credit Card Debts
Do you both have credit cards from the same department stores and/or credit card companies? Consider adding both names to one (probably the one with a better interest rate) and canceling the other card to minimize interest fees and the number of bills sent to your home every month. Keep in mind that canceling old cards may bring down your credit score, so as long as there's no annual fee it may be better to leave some cards open (even if you never use them).
If one or both of you have credit card debt, consider creating a unified plan to help repay debt quickly. Now that you're married those debts are a joint concern, so tackle the issue as a team. Consider focusing on your highest interest debt to save the most money.
Designate a Spouse to Pay the Bills
If you think your spouse is paying the bill and he or she thinks you’re paying the bill, one will likely slip between the cracks. Decide who will be in charge of writing checks and/or monitoring online payments every month to avoid any late fees (and future arguments).
This doesn't have to be a one-sided assignment: you can split up the bills evenly. It's just important to know who's responsible for what so there's no miscommunication. You can also be flexible. If the electricity bill is extra high one balmy summer, you can help each other out.
Opt into Online Banking and Automate Your Finances
Online banking is extremely convenient and organized. Automatic payments help to ensure that bills get paid on time every month, and saving on postage costs and reducing paper waste are two more benefits. Best of all, automation saves you both from having to remember to do something every month, which is always a plus.
Whatever your strategy, the key to successfully managing finances as a newlywed is communication. Be open, honest, and clear about what you want and what makes you feel comfortable. Be willing to bend when appropriate. Simply being on the same page can make managing finances as a household 100% easier.
Need help building a spending plan for your new household? Financial counseling from MMI is free and confidential. Let an expert walk you through your best options for a successful and fulfilling budget.