Being a newlywed is an exciting time -- nothing is set in stone and a whole life of opportunity awaits you. For precisely this reason, the patterns that we set during this time can set us up for a lifetime of financial success or struggles. Following the six tips below will ensure that you set yourself up for success as a newly-married couple.
- Define your priorities. Everyone brings their own perspective into a marriage and it's possible to think that you have the same priorities only to discover later that you're working at cross purposes. Take the time to discuss together what really matters and which financial goals come first. Even if you've been married a while, it's a good idea to review your priorities and compare that to your spending to make sure that your current financial behaviors are in line.
- Plan for the future. Failure to plan is planning to fail -- especially in your financial life. Retirement, new home, children, college savings -- none of them happen by accident. Once you know what your goals are, put a specific plan in place to attain them.
- Start small in all things. For many newlyweds, the first few years are a time of abundance with combined income and a consolidation of living expenses. Expecting this to continue indefinitely, many newlyweds bite off more than they can chew with new homes, new cars, and children all within a few years only to realize later that they're financially over-extended. Because you can't fully anticipate what your future finances will be until that future arrives, start small: buy a cheaper home than you think you can afford, buy inexpensive or used automobiles, and resist the urge to completely outfit your home with new furniture. This will make it easier to save in the present and you can always trade up later.
- Pay off debt and avoid it in the future. Debt will weigh you down and make your life harder by siphoning off needed resources. It also creates an attitude of hopelessneww where it's easy to continue in the debt cycle. Make the effort pay it off in the abundance of your early years.
- Start saving now. Studies show that if you start saving for retirement early, you can accumulate significantly more savings. Not only does starting early allow you to save more, but your savings has more time to accumulate interest. This can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a middle class family.
- Have a small but happy wedding. Your wedding day will be one of the highlights of your life, but it can also saddle you with debts for years to come. It's possible to have an amazing wedding on a reasonable budget that won't hold you back for years to come, so it's worth the effort to get creative on how to minimize this cost. Online resources can help you successfully plan to keep your costs low.
Getting married and being a newlywed is truly a magical time. Following these tips will help ensure that your newlywed years are not only happy, but put you on a path for lifetime success. Good luck!