Special to OneWed From InCharge Debt Solutions
Before your wedding is a great time to begin to think about issues that affect newlyweds. So much planning goes into the budget, decorations, food, invitation list and music, the reality of “what next?” is often overlooked…sometimes until it is too late!
Hopefully, you and your new spouse have been responsible and budget-conscious as you put together your wedding, so the flow of credit card bills and unexpected expenses doesn’t throw you off course as you begin your new life together. Assuming the post-wedding picture is reasonably sound financially, there are some very important things that you both should think about as you look ahead.
For starters, it’s always a good idea to check both partners’ credit reports, first to see how likely it will be to qualify for loans, get jobs, and other important things like that. While you’re looking, be sure to check for errors that you can correct (e.g. charges that were not yours, payments that were on-time but shown as late, accounts that were closed or paid in full) - everything you can do to improve the scores will be important for the future.
Once you’ve reviewed your credit reports, sit down together and put together a budget that’s realistic and won’t cause stress down the road. Talk honestly and openly about your priorities for spending and saving, and be willing to compromise. Make a plan to combine your budgets and assign responsibilities for who will write the checks or pay the bills online. Be sure to agree on a good communication plan so that both partners know where the money is going, how much is available, and how things are going according to the plan.
A critical part of the process that should happen in conjunction with budgeting is creating a strategy to pay down (or off) any debts you have. They may have been one partner’s debts before, but suddenly, both people are sharing responsibility and a financial life together. Eliminating debts is important for current, as well as future, financial stability and will increase prospects for a home, jobs and better credit scores.
While it is tempting to jump into big purchases as a new couple, don’t do it! Wait until the aforementioned steps have been taken. The house, and other larger expenses, can and should be part of the plan, but don’t take them out of order. Be sure, however, to think about when and how they will happen, and include a plan to save for retirement. Even if the newlyweds are young, it will come much more quickly than anyone anticipates.
Following these simple tips can mean the difference between a great start and solid financial future, and a struggle that may never end.
About InCharge® Debt Solutions (www.incharge.org )— InCharge® Debt Solutions (IDS) provides professional credit counseling housing counseling, and financial education services to consumers and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). IDS is an affiliate of InCharge® Institute of America, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Orlando, Florida.