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Budgeting Dumping Debt

Merging Finances for Newlyweds

As a newlywed one of the questions that we are surprisingly asked a lot is if we merged finances and when. Was it before the wedding or after? Do you keep separate accounts? Do you have your own spending money? How do you make it work!  Those are all great questions!

I personally believe that you should wait until you become married to combine finances. Jayme and I kept our finances separate until we got married and saved for our wedding together, but in separate accounts.

To separate or join accounts.

Just because you keep your finances separate until you get married doesn’t mean you don’t TALK about money until you get married. It is so important to have open communication before you tie the knot… or even before you get engaged! It is important to know how much debt (if any) each person has, how much they make, their philosophy on money, and this last one may seem weird but it is so important to know how their family handled money! Insert tangent: Jayme and I came from two TOTALLY different backgrounds with how our families handled money and it was really eye-opening for us and caused riff sometimes because we felt the other person was doing it wrong, but really it was just different. This is where compromise comes in! When Jayme and I differ on money I always want to know WHY he feels the way he does, to understand his thought process. That way I can share why I feel like we can do it a different way or have an aha moment and realize that his way truly is better for us and our family.

Premarital counseling.

Yeah, this topic can be scary but honestly premarital counseling was amazing for us and our relationship. We had a blast with the couple that counseled us and trusted that they had our best interest at heart and wouldn’t take sides. The only thing that I wish we would have covered more of was MONEY! Which is really surprising for me the nerd to be saying that. We told the counselor that we were debt free, not taking on any debt for the wedding and have a really good relationship with money so we don’t need to spend too much time on that. But I really wish we spent more time talking about how our families spent money growing up and money habits that we didn’t realize the other person had until we were sharing a bank account. Over a year into our marriage, we have such different communication than we did the first couple of months but it has been a journey!

Are you a nerd for a free spirit?

Understanding who in the relationship is the nerd and who is the free spirit is so important to understanding how the other person views money. I am 110% the nerd in our relationship, which is very surprising because I used to be such a free spirit with money, but all that changed about 3 years ago when I became hardcore with managing my finances and being in control of my money rather than my money in control of me! Both the nerd and the free spirit have very important roles in the relationship. The nerd helps the family stay on budget and in check and the free spirit helps to ensure that you don’t get budget burnout and can still ENJOY your money. When Jayme and I first got married we moved into a new apartment with all of my mismatched free furniture that was falling apart. I didn’t want to buy new furniture but my wonderful free spirit husband compromised with me and went room by room to make this apartment into our cozy first home. He wanted to buy it all at once since we had the cash for it but since we had just cash flowed a wedding and spent so much money in the previous year I told him I didn’t feel comfortable with that and would feel better if we took one room a month and redid it that way. That was a huge compromise on both of our parts but in the end, I am so glad that we did. I absolutely love coming home after a long day at work and see a beautifully decorated coastal farmhouse apartment. I like to think my style is if Joanna Gaines came to the beach!

Random Big Purchases.

Set a number that you both are comfortable with for random purchases, whether that’s $25, $50 or $200. For us it’s $50, so anything over $50 we have to consult with the other person if it’s a good purchase to make and/or if it’s the right time to buy it. Sometimes I ask Jayme if we can buy a $60 kitchen appliance and he says “let’s wait until next month” or “your birthday is in a few weeks, if you don’t get it for your birthday then we can get it”, while he is secretly jumping for joy that I just gave him a great birthday gift idea!! This is a really great way to always have open communication about your money and budget, it also makes so that there are no surprises when one of the spouses is going through the bank statement and logging all of the purchases and randomly sees a $150 Amazon purchase that you had no clue about! No one else has been there right?!

Budget meetings.

As a nerd, I want to control every single part of the budget, including the budget meetings! It takes everything in me not to just TELL Jayme where our money is going and what is happening, but instead follow this much better approach. I create a rough draft of the budget, yes a rough draft meaning that it is NOT finalized (even though it looks perfect and doesn’t need any changes in my head)! Then after dinner when our tummies are full and not hangry we sit down for our budget meeting, I let him look at it and nod at certain things and shake his head at other things, all while I am keeping my mouth shut. I want to go line by line and explain my thought process for everything but I need to let HIM completely process it first. Then I ask him if there is anything I missed or if there are any changes he sees that need to be made. 100% of the time he says that he needs more eating out money, that’s his way of making light of the meeting. J This brings on the laughing and talking, it is very casual but productive, we move some numbers around and then finalize it for the month. We also take this time to talk about our goals and our dreams. It’s so important to keep them both at the front of your mind to remember why you are sacrificing and eating at home more than you would like and to put it all in perspective.

What are some tips that you have on combining finances with your spouse?

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what do you think?