Marriage is a wonderful part of life. Committing yourself to another person is a bold and worthwhile decision, but it definitely requires some practical thought along the way. Joining lives also means joining finances, a process too many newlyweds overlook. When done correctly, it has the power to forge your futures by creating a strong foundation. When done incorrectly, it can lead to arguments, financial instability and credit damage. Consider the following lessons learned from a seasoned spouse. What you learn will help you protect your marriage and credit health.

  • Lesson #1: Love doesn’t equal the same financial viewpoint. My husband and I are both frugal, but that doesn’t mean we always agree on where money should—and should not—be saved. We aren’t alone: According to a recent survey, money is the number one cause of conflict for engaged couples, newlyweds and new parents.

The fix: Focus on compromise. You don’t have to agree on every issue to have a successful marriage, and finances are no exception. Foster communication by sitting down with your spouse to talk about your finances. Create a household budget using our free template that allows you both to stick to the same plan. Talk to a financial planner if you disagree about how to invest, save and generally spend your income. Talk to a credit professional to learn how your decisions could affect your individual credit scores. The bottom line: talk. Resolution and communication are the cornerstones of a finely-tuned budget.

  • Lesson #2: Individual accounts can sink marital finances. I entered marriage with a mountain of student loan debt. Although the balance was legally mine, combining finances meant that my husband would also include it as a household expense. Unfortunately, many newlyweds don’t consider the impact of their paramour’s debts before committing to marriage.The fix: Consider your perspective and individual responsibilities. Marital bliss may not translate into paying individual debts from a joint account, and it’s wise to discuss these issues before tying the knot. How will you manage debts brought into the marriage? Will each spouse remain responsible for their own accounts, or will you assume dual responsibility? Answering these questions is vital to protecting your relationship, budget and credit scores. Don’t wait to initiate the conversation.


  • Lesson #3: The landscape will change. The newlywed landscape is much different from the view after 10 years of marriage. Buying a home, starting a family and other new expenses are sure to change your priorities and approach to credit.The fix: Set universal limits. Changing landscape doesn’t mean you should abandon all budgeting and rules. For example, suppose your combined income increases by 20 percent within five years of marriage. Despite the shift, you have both agreed never to spend more than 25 percent of your income on housing and 10 percent on auto financing. These limits allow you to safely upgrade your lifestyle without allowing temptation to threaten your credit. Focus on the Five Factors of credit scoring no matter how your life changes.
  • Lesson #4: Mutual goals are valuable. A GoBankingRates survey revealed that one in three Americans has no retirement savings. Lifestyle obstacles and lack of planning are among the main reasons people fail to save, and the latter is completely avoidable.

    The fix: Talk about the future.
    Sticking to a household plan is easier when you are working toward the same goals. Talk to your spouse about their dreams for the future and allow a professional to help you set your plans in motion. Whether you want a larger house, a family, or retirement on the beach, you’ll need plenty of savings and good credit to accomplish these goals. Time is valuable—don’t waste it. 
  • Lesson #5: Honesty is essential. According to a 2014 Harris poll, one-third of married adults have lied to their spouse about money. Whether it’s a small infraction like a shopping trip or a mountain of credit card debt, dishonesty can sink both your credit scores—and your relationship—in quick succession.

The fix: Consider the real problem. The average person doesn’t lie for pure amusement. Concealing the truth usually involves guilt or fear, two common factors surrounding unpaid debt and credit damage. Consider your real motivations for lying and talk to your spouse about the problems you face. Marriage is a team effort, and lying won’t help your relationship or your credit.


Tags: ,

Posted in Finance