Every once in a while I get asked for money advice for newlyweds. I remember the first such advice that I received (although technically I was about to get engaged, not a newlywed). I was visiting my fiancé’s father to ask for his support before I proposed to my future wife. I remember 3 things from that conversation:
1. I was scared to death (he is a big guy and owns dozens of guns)
2. He gave me his approval
3. He told me that most couples disagreed most about 3 things:
- How to raise children
At the time I remember thinking, “my wife and I are both accounting students, so we won’t have any money disagreements.” Obviously I didn’t say that to him though (refer to number 1 above). Boy was I wrong.
Money is a major cause of marital stress and divorce. Money mismanagement, lying, and selfishness breach trust and bring heartache.
I am not a marriage counselor. I also don’t have a flawless marriage. However, I am a husband, father, and I have seen how many different couples handle their finances during my career and life.
Below are a few of my observations and thoughts that I am trying to implement or perfect in my own marriage. I think it works well as money advice for newlyweds, the not-so-newly-wed, as well as those that will soon be married. Many of these principles apply to other aspects of a marriage as well.
Solid Money Advice for Newlyweds
1. Understand the Importance of Marriage and Family
“The most important … work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.” Harold Lee
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” David McKay
Our families and marriages should be our highest priority in life. Little else matters when things are not going well at home.
2. Divorce is Not an Option Mentality
My wife and I decided before we tied the knot that divorce was not an option. We have our disagreements, but we work through things rather than let differences destroy our marriage.
3. Understand the Role of Money in our Lives
Understanding the role of money in our lives definitely helps put money and life in perspective.
4. Spouses Should be Equal, Unified Partners
Marriage partners are equal partners and should be unified in their efforts to set their finances and homes in order. This means that both need to sacrifice and contribute for the better good of the marriage and family.
5. Strengthen and Nurture Your Relationship
Make sure you budget for and set aside time to strengthen and nurture your relationship.
6. Set Goals as a Couple
Setting and working towards financial and other goals can help us allocate our time and resources to the things that are most important to us, which will bring contentment and happiness.
7. Remember the Basics
Doing the basics will bless your finances and your marriage:
- Create a budget
- Obtain proper insurance
- Create an estate plan
- Develop a recordkeeping system
- Get out of debt
- Create an emergency fund
- Accumulate food and water storage
- Each spouse should have credit
- Learn how to invest
8. Address Problems Early On
Discuss problems before they fester and get worse.
- Don’t lecture or reprimand
- Do it with love
- Consider your spouses’ feelings
- Seek professional help if you need it.
9. Pick your Battles
Learn to let the little things go. Give in on things that are important to your spouse and less so to you. Let your spouse know when something is really important to you. When something is important to both of you, try to compromise.
Many spouses have different ideas about money for a number of reasons:
- We adopt many of the same ideas and habits as our parents
- Opposites attract
- Men and women in general tend to handle money differently
In my marriage, I tend to want to save more and spend less than my wife. However, my wife reminds me that some important things in life cost money.
We try and listen to each other’s point of view and then strive to find common ground. When we still disagree, we generally end up compromising, which probably gets us to a better answer anyway.
Talk about money matters with your spouse or fiancé on a regular and frequent basis.
12. Understand Money Problems
Money problems in a marriage are usually caused by money mismanagement rather than a lack of money. Creating a budget, getting organized, and finding ways to cut expenses are generally better solutions than finding ways to make more money.
13. Keep the Good
People oftentimes espouse the financial habits and philosophies of their parents. A better course of action may be to adopt the good, leave behind the not so good, and create your own good habits as appropriate.
Both my parents and my wife’s parents are good with money. One set has taught us frugality.
The other set has taught us to allocate our resources to the things that are most important in life.
Both are incredible examples of charity and service.
14. The Marital Unit Trumps Other Relationships
A marriage unit is more important than any other earthly relationship. While it may be wise to ask for advice from others, decisions should ultimately be made between spouses.
15. Financial Independence
A couple should strive to be financially independent of parents and others.
16. Be Forgiving
Understand that money mistakes will be made since we are all imperfect.
17. Be Disciplined
The best intentions and strategies in the world won’t be effective unless both spouses are committed.
18. Find a System that Works for You
It is ok to divide up financial responsibilities but both spouses should be involved.
Some couples set a spending limit, and non-budgeted purchases over this amount must be approved by both spouses.
Many couples use the “yours, mine, and ours” bank account strategy. Each spouse receives their own discretionary spending money in their own separate interest bearing checking account each month, with all other funds being held in joint accounts. Spouses agree on the amount of the spending money but are not accountable to their spouse for it.
Each couple needs to find an arrangement that works for them.
19. Be Lifelong Learners
The wise management of a couple’s personal finances will lead to greater harmony in the home, less marital strife, less financial stress, and more time and resources available to spend on the family.
Additional Money Advice for Newlyweds
If you want additional money advice for newlyweds, consider reading the below books. Books like these may make a more valuable wedding gift than a blender (they’ll probably receive about 5 other blenders anyway).
- Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples
- Couples Money: What Every Couple Should Know about Money and Relationships
- Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner