It's supposed to be the closest relationship of your adult life. But recent studies show that married couples struggle with communication and keep secrets more than ever before. What's worse, one of the biggest gaps in dialogue is about finances and saving for the future.
More than half of all married adults in America are kept up at night worried about their finances. And maybe the other half should be. A first home purchase is a big positive step, but also fraught with potential conflict.
The first step to saving money as a couple is ensuring you are on the same financial page. Are both of you responsible with money? Your financial situation may change over time - remember this! Always save more than you think you need so that if something unexpected happens.
Let's take a look at the top money tips for couples to save more for that ultimate dream house.
Talk About Long-Term Goals as a Couple
Discuss your long-term goals as a couple and how you plan to achieve them. This means that you should start this conversation before you tie the knot. It will help lay a solid foundation for your relationship and married life together.
Figuring out how to properly manage money, either by yourself or with a spouse, is an ongoing process that evolves from day one. For example, it's easy to get into a bad habit of spending too much on fancy dinners when starting a new marriage but then feel completely overwhelmed trying to catch up later when it comes time to buy a house.
One important idea is to put cash in an emergency fund, or savings account just in case something happens unexpectedly.
Talk About Investment Opportunities
Talk about what is happening in the world today with investment opportunities so that you can both be up to date with any financial changes or new opportunities.
As with any project, it is best to break things down into smaller pieces so that you know what needs to be done and can stay on track. For example, if you are saving for a house down payment together, start by putting aside some cash each month to see how quickly you can get there.
When saving money as a couple, consider your financial situation over time by always considering the big picture. Thinking ahead helps prevents getting stuck in bad spending habits or struggling financially when more serious expenses arise later down the road.
Ask Each Other for Help
Ask each other for help if there is something unique to one of your financial situations, like student loans or credit card debt, so you are both working towards the same goals.
One useful tip regarding any kind of planning is to divide and conquer. It's easier if you each take a piece of the puzzle instead of trying to do this all by yourself.
Talking about money with your spouse can be scary or difficult, especially if one has bad spending habits or an outdated understanding of finances that they need to improve upon. But don't let this stand in the way. If you want a happy marriage filled with financial security, the only thing left is to get started today so that you aren't always starting from behind financially.
Stick to the Plan
Create a budget together that will work for both of your lifestyles. If one person loves to eat out every night while the other likes takeout just once a week, create different categories for food instead of splitting everything 50/50.
Create a budget that includes both of your incomes, not just one person's income. Having the same account for shared expenses is helpful instead of trying to keep track of everything separately, which can lead to later arguments.
The amount you can save will depend upon how much each of you makes, but most people are surprised by how they can afford more than they originally believed when working towards the same goals together. The best part is that feeling of real accomplishment, knowing that you worked hard together and reached your financial goals.
Establish an Emergency Fund
Before buying a house, consider how much each person makes on average per month after factoring in taxes. This will give you a general idea of how far away from owning a home you might be, which may help avoid future arguments or issues after buying one together.
Talking about big life changes is even more important when it comes to money, so have a frank discussion about buying a house together.
Another good idea is to set up an emergency fund that can be used as soon as it accumulates some money for any unexpected expenses the two of you might face along the way.
You will need cash on hand just in case anything goes wrong, whether medical bills from one person being sick or something happening with your car that needs fixing immediately. So be proactive and open up the conversation, and don't wait until things go bad before having a serious financial talk.
Decide if You Want to Have Joint or Separate Accounts
This is a very personal decision, so don't feel obligated to go with whatever works for other couples. Some people share everything, while others prefer to have separate accounts, which can help avoid arguments down the road.
You and your spouse need to work together as a team so that you can always support one another no matter what comes your way financially. Doing this will give both of you peace of mind knowing that you are working hard towards financial security.
Track It Together
Make a savings plan and track your progress in a shared Google Doc or on a whiteboard in your home. This way, you can see your progress as a couple and be excited about how close you are. Or practical about how much ground you still have to cover.
Set up an automatic transfer each month to help make it even easier to save for home ownership. If you don't have the cash available right now, take advantage of compound interest by using a good savings account with a high-interest rate for investments.
Keep these money tips for couples in mind when trying to save money as a couple. Saving for that dream house takes time and patience, but the feeling of achieving something bigger than yourself with someone you love is worth every second. You can get there if you work towards your goals together.
Talking about money is important in any marriage, whether early on before tying the knot or years down the road. Don't always assume that your partner knows what you want or need out of life. If one person is always paying for everything in your relationship, it can lead to bad financial habits and make money issues a constant point of tension in your marriage.
Start planning ways to save today so all your hard work pays off in the future.