Budgeting to Keep you on Track
Budgeting to Keep you on Track — Smart Planning Techniques for Newlyweds
Maintaining a household budget is smart planning for newlyweds who are adjusting to shared financial responsibilities.
Maintaining a household budget is smart planning for anyone, but especially for newlyweds who are adjusting to shared financial responsibilities and learning each other’s spending patterns. Each of you will likely bring income, assets and debt into the relationship. Merging and managing them is easier when you set up a budget. This budget worksheet can help you get started.
Identify savings opportunities
Begin by identifying and adding up all of your combined monthly sources of income and expenses. You may be able to save money by combining expenses like wireless plans and auto insurance because most offer family discounts. If each of you has health insurance through an employer, investigate family coverage options. It may be beneficial for one of you to switch to the other’s plan if you can save money or improve your coverage. Do you both have debt that you’re bringing into the marriage? Jointly prioritize paying it off, starting with credit cards and loans with the highest interest rates. You may want to consolidate debt into a single loan with a lower rate.
It’s important to set aside money each month for an emergency savings fund, as well. Three to six months of income is generally recommended. Set up ground rules for discretionary spending. Will you each have your own monthly clothing allowance? What about fun money? If one of you wants to make a big purchase will you need to run it by the other? What’s considered a “big” purchase? Setting expectations at the beginning may help you to avoid financial disputes down the road.
Follow-up is key to successful budgeting
Be sure to track all of your spending and save your receipts. If you find you have more money going out than coming in, keep in mind that going out to lunch every day and buying a morning cup of coffee can really add up over time. The best way to know how to cut is to know where your money is going.
Once you’ve created a budget and set it into motion, make time every week or at least once a month to sit down together and see how you’re doing, and make any needed adjustments. Reconciling your budget on a regular basis will help you stay on track and identify opportunities to improve your finances.