Moving in together is a big step in any relationship. You’ve just been married, and now you’re ready to take on your world together in a new home.
However, one of the biggest reasons couples fight at this stage, or any stage, is financial difficulties.
There are a few proactive actions you can take that’ll strengthen your relationship when it comes to finances and make the transition a little easier.
1. Have an Open and Honest Discussion
Having discussions about finances can be difficult for even the strongest of couples. During this discussion, you’ll want to evaluate the state of your individual finances and make some key decisions for your financial future. When entering into this important conversation, make sure to be respectful of others’ feelings and approaches to money, and be honest about the state of your finances when communicating to your partner.
Also, if you feel that the discussion has taken an unproductive turn, take a moment away from the conversation to relax, seek guidance, and remember this is the person you love. The important thing is to make sure you’re on the same page financially by the end of your conversation.
During these conversations, talk openly about your finances including student loans, credit card debt or other types of debt, savings goals, and retirement plans. This’ll help you understand your bigger financial picture as a married couple. Another decision you’ll need to come to by the end of this discussion is whether or not you want to combine your finances.
To some, marriage and living together means you should combine all aspects of your life, including finances.
However, there can be some advantages to keeping your finances separate, or having some things combined and others separate. It’s important to be understanding about your partner’s personal financial goals, and make sure to communicate about what you can work on together.
2. Decide to Rent or Own
The biggest decision you’ll make when moving in together is deciding where you’re going to live. In some situations, one partner will move into another partner’s current residence. Others prefer to start their life together in an entirely new home.
When beginning your search for your home, you’ll need to decide whether it’s best to rent or own.
After discussing your finances, you should have a pretty good understanding of how much you can afford to pay in rent. There’s often a preconceived notion that renting can save couples money, especially with recently raised interest rates. However, mortgage payments can be, at times, less of an expense.
Additionally, you’re working toward owning your home which is a financial asset as compared to paying rent, where the only benefit is having a living space. To see if owning is an option for you, you’ll need to figure out how much you can afford on a mortgage, which can be calculated by evaluating your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio. If you think owning is out of your budget, consider walking through this process first because it might be more within reach than you think.
3. Create Your Home’s Budget
Once you’ve decided if you’ll be renting or buying, you’ll want to create a budget for your home and your new family. When moving into a new place, there are always hidden costs that you’re not expecting initially. These costs include furniture, moving costs, appliances, and updates to your living space.
Even if you decided previously to keep your finances separate, this might be a good opportunity to open a joint account to pay for things such as the mortgage or rent, property taxes, utilities, and internet. This is a great way to ensure you’ve saved the correct amount of money each month collectively, and without needing to draw from your individual savings accounts to make these payments.
Once you have those expenses covered, you can start a simple budget for some of the other shared costs that you’ll incur monthly, such as streaming services, groceries, entertainment, pet costs, and home maintenance.
After living together in the home for 2 – 3 months, look at the money you’re spending in each category, and see where you can cut to increase savings. It might take some trial and error with your partner in these beginning months, but trust that with faith you and your partner will continue to grow.
Once you’re settled into your new home, you and your spouse can start enjoying your lives together. Remember to approach financial discussions with patience and to have financial health check-ups every now and again.
If you feel like you and your spouse are having disagreements about finances, or just experiencing difficult times, sometimes it can be best to see your priest, a financial counselor, and other marriage mentors in your life. Bumps in a marriage can happen, however with planning and understanding your life together can continue to grow through any obstacles.