Almost There: Advice from a Newlywed: Money Merging

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Advice from a Newlywed: Money Merging

Being a newlywed is obviously pretty wonderful, but I must say that the merging of two lives keeps things really interesting. 

Joseph and I were friends a long, long time before we ever dated, so we've spent a good amount of time in each other's spaces. Whether we're just used to each other or mesh well, we haven't had any weird issues with living in the same (very quaint) home. 

One of the areas I'm sure all newlyweds have fun tackling is the merging of money! 

Dealing with finances is already "fun" enough for one person, and blending new sets of bills, new incomes and new ideals can make things extra spicy! 

In all honesty, this isn't a big point of contention for us or anything, but it definitely forces us to practice some communication and organization skills to avoid trouble.

We've only been married two months (in two days from now), so I won't claim to be an expert on couple financial management, but in our two months we have learned some methods that have been really helpful to us, at least at this point.

1. Details! 

This sounds bad, but I never actually made a formal budget for myself before marriage. I mean, that doesn't mean I just blew my money all the time, but I  always kept track in my head of what money was coming and when and what I needed to pay. Since Joseph and I haven't mastered telepathic communication (YET) this method no longer works. We made this bill organizer that is helpful, but we've since found it's even more helpful to make detailed lists that include what bills we pay with what paychecks and when they are all due. We keep it on a shared Google doc so we can both update it with any extra income that flies our way (which does happen since we freelance). 

2. Prioritize

Some things are easier to prioritize than others. For example, we don't want to be homeless so we pay our rent on time. We also like having those modern electrical conveniences, so utility bills are good. Due dates definitely make priorities for you, but sometimes when paychecks don't exactly match up with due dates, you need to make decisions. Not only this, though, there are plenty of non-bill items a couple is going to want to spend money on. Right now, we are working on fixing up our office, so there are expenses that go with that. Whatever you do, just be on the same page about what is important in terms of spending and if you aren't there, get there!

3. Be Flexible

You can plan all day long, but sometimes there are things you just can't account for, like a flat tire. (We haven't had this happen yet, but boy a few of my tires look questionable. If you're the praying type, go ahead and lift those bad boys up!) In all seriousness, though, something we talked about in marriage prep was how much each other could spend without telling the other person. It makes it so I don't have to call Joseph and tell him I'm buying a cup of coffee or something minor and vice versa. Also, it's great if you can give each other allowances so to speak for those items you might not see eye to eye on (like us girls buying another pair of shoes or something!) 

4. Learn as You Go

We are still in this process for sure, and I have a feeling it's probably a lengthy journey. Having to communicate your wants and needs and document your spending habits is a GREAT exercise in not only bringing you closer as a couple but also just paying really close attention to how you spend your money. 

If you haven't gotten married yet, I recommend laying this all out on the table ahead of time, so that when you have that first month of bills together, it's not such a confusing ordeal. If you are married, do you have any funny money management stories to share? It's just so fun how different guys and girls process things sometimes!

—Holli Anne

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