Finances are one of the main causes of conflict in many relationships. That is why it is a good idea to begin married life by working together harmoniously in managing income and expenses. The following tips may help to head off tensions and keep you working productively in tandem.
Make a Budget
Work out a monthly budget that both of you feel comfortable with. Figure out your regular income as well as extra money coming in from side jobs, work bonuses, or raises. List your monthly expenses that include housing, utilities, transportation, food, health costs, insurance, and taxes. You can probably add a few more to the list as well. Don’t forget annual expenses or holiday spending. Your budget will probably need adjustments from time to time, but now you have a general idea of how to cover your bills.
Look for ways to save money by living frugally when possible. Avoid splurge spending and use coupons or discounts. Take advantage of no-cost or low-cost services like a free checking account from your bank. Try making cash purchases instead of using credit, which could save money. Use shopping lists for the supermarket and convenience store shopping. Consider buying clothes, furniture, and household items second-hand to reduce costs. Keep an eye on your utility usage, especially air conditioning, which can increase very quickly. While you don’t have to apply every cost-cutting technique available, choose the ones you can live with and watch how they can make a difference.
Set Financial Goals
Organize an emergency fund for short-term repairs and unexpected needs to avoid using credit. Discuss long-term goals like buying a home or saving for college or a new car. Having financial goals can help you stick with the budget. Then celebrate your success whenever you reach a goal.
Be realistic about your finances. Don’t make your budget so tight that daily life is gloomy. Avoid forcing yourselves to make frequent sacrifices so that the joy of effective money management is lost. If you make an occasional money misstep, don’t agonize over it. Get back on budget and keep going. Have fun occasionally in taking a vacation or buying something for enjoyment, such as a bigger screen television or exercise equipment.
Keep in mind that money is a tool to help build your marriage, not a weapon to damage it. Take care of your finances now, and they will take care of you for a lifetime.