Making good use of your money is a good idea for anyone, but it’s extremely important for couples. When you’re single, a financial mistake here and there may be no big deal. You haven’t really hurt anyone but yourself. However, when you’re married or seriously dating, things are different. Now you have more to think about than just you–and if you start a family, it’s a whole new ball game. Following are a few money tips for couples.
Have Fun Without Spending Money
When people are dating, it’s almost a given that they’ll be spending money on each other. Little gifts change hands once in a while, and they’re constantly going out to eat or see a movie. When you get married, you’ll have to make a few changes–it is possible to have fun without spending money. Instead of taking in a movie, try taking a walk around the block or a bike ride to the park. Have a backyard barbeque and get to know your neighbors. Invite a few friends over, rent a movie, and enjoy some quiet conversation.
Be Honest With Each Other One of the first things you should learn when you become a couple is to be open and honest with each other about your finances. If you have something that you absolutely love to do and don’t want to give up, it will certainly become a problem in your marriage if you aren’t up front with your spouse about it. Both parties most likely have some hobby or habit that costs a few bucks, and they don’t want to give it up. By being honest now, you will stand a better chance of avoiding big problems in the future.
Plan a Budget, and Stick to It
A very important thing to do, once you become a couple, is to plan a budget. Take the time to go over all your expenditures and compare it with your income. Try and be honest with yourselves as far as how much money you actually spend. The objective is to make sure you’re going to have enough money to pay for everything you need, with a little extra for special occasions–and maybe even some left over to start a retirement account. Once your budget is planned, you’ll have to make sure you stick to it.
Think About Retirement
It’s never too early to think about retirement. When you’re working out a budget, one of the things that should be foremost on your mind is opening up a retirement account of some sort. If you have a job that offers a 401k, you should contribute as much money into as you can afford to. If you’re going to be self-employed, or work someplace that doesn’t have a retirement fund, then you’ll need to think about starting your own IRA, or Individual Retirement Account. The earlier you start saving; the better off you’ll be when you retire.
Don’t Try to ‘Keep Up with the Joneses’
One of the biggest mistakes that couple make is try and ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying the same type of car as your neighbors, even though you don’t have the money for it. Or, to move into a nicer home than you can afford, because that’s what all your friends are doing. Instead you should make every effort to live within your means.
Avoid Going into Debt
Even if you are able to avoid trying to match or outdo your friends and neighbors, you should still be careful to spend only what you earn–avoid going into debt if at all possible. Living with a huge debt can be stressful, and if you aren’t able to pay for everything you buy on credit, you could end up having to declare bankruptcy.
Maintain Separate Checking Accounts
Even though you’re a couple now, it might not be a bad idea to maintain separate checking accounts. You should have a mutual account that you can use to pay all your usual bills, but if you each maintain a separate account, it’ll give you the opportunity to be free to purchase some small items for yourself without dipping into family money.
Are You Ready to Start a Family?
An extremely important consideration for young couples is the financial ramifications of starting a family. A baby in the house is far more than simply having another mouth to feed. You have to consider whether or not you or your spouse will be able to quit working in order to stay home and raise the children. Then, there is the cost of clothing, school, insurance, and numerous other financial considerations. The bottom line is, kids cost money.
Author Bio: Guest post from Frances Hall. Frances writes for 100BestDatingSites.com.