Getting married is one of the most exciting times in your life - you're dedicating your time and emotional effort to somebody for, ideally, the rest of your days. That's a big step to take! Some might argue that combining your finances and getting on the same page about money is an even bigger step, though. The process can seem daunting from the outside; but luckily, with the implementation of a few tricks, you can make the process far easier.
Discuss Finances and Write Out Your Goals
Having those deep, thorough talks about money probably isn't at the top of anyone's "I'd love to do..." list, but it's essential to a healthy financial life and a healthy relationship. These conversations don't need to be massive or upsetting-- go out and grab a coffee and talk shop for awhile! When you're done, leave the conversation for another day. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Goals should be both individual and couple-based. While nobody wants to acknowledge that something may happen to your relationship or even one of you down the road, these are considerations that you need to be honest and real about during this stage. It's fine to focus more on a couple of family-based finances, but it's healthy to have your own goal and aspirations for just you! If you're in the camp of combining all of your accounts and finances, you aren't precluded from thinking and acting as an individual.
Build an Emergency Fund
Having an emergency fund in place to cover you in the cases of unexpected problems is crucial to your financial well being. This isn't always easy, and for some people it isn't always possible - and that's okay; but if you're able to set up an emergency fund, it should be one of your top priorities.
Finances are a massive stress to most of us; it seems to be the case even more so for couples. Being able to eliminate the stress of taking out loans of piling up money on credit cards in the event of an emergency can lift a massive weight off of your back and give you time to focus on what actually matters.
Design Your Budget
And stick to it! We know that the second half of that piece of advice isn't always easy, but at the very least you should be making an effort to put together a budget that both you and your partner are comfortable with. This exercise also typically exposes whose priorities lie where-- it may open the path to other relevant conversations and topics that you never would've thought to bring up before.
Make sure that when you put together your budget, you're realistic about both people in the relationship and their spending habits. Nuance is needed here - nobody should be running the show. If you know your partner can't possibly stick to only eating out once a month, why set them up for failure and you for disappointment? Compromise is essential here.
Implement Weekly Money Meetings
While it might sound a bit contrived, countless couples actually benefit from having time set aside each week to assess their financial standing. Some couples may find through time that they're able to go longer between official discussions or meetings (say, two weeks to a month), but starting off getting together every week gives you a great opportunity to connect and learn more about how your financial future will look.
As mentioned previously, this doesn't need to be a tough or difficult task to undertake. If you know you want to go out to eat once a week and you're fine with discussing money over dinner, go for it! If you want to squabble over whether to spend five dollars on coffee, might as well do it over a board game or a quick walk to get your blood flowing. There's nothing wrong with being unconventional.
It doesn't have to be scary to start dealing with money with a partner - you just have to know what you're doing. Implementing these tips could serve you well if you're unsure of where to begin with your spouse; most of them can even be applied to older relationships where money was never properly tackled in the first place. Taking the time to be understanding, forthcoming, and thoughtful when speaking to your partner about money will set you on the path to success.