Newlyweds need to face financial future
Posted June 30, 2010 12:43 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2010 1:37 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Becky Rudder and John Sykes' wedding is in less than three weeks, and they are facing questions about money that all newlywed couples need to answer.
"It's one of the top things people argue about, so it really should be one of those things you get a handle on right away," financial planner Cindy Corbett said.
One question Rudder and Sykes considered was whether to have joint or separate checking accounts.
"Joint accounts. He'll pay the bills with our money," Rudder said.
They also thought about whether they tend to spend or save money.
"We just sat down together and really crunched numbers and made a budget and were very honest with each other about our wants and our needs and our expectations," Rudder said.
Couples need to be open about money matters from the start, Corbett said. For example, they need to establish that once marriage starts, there's no more "his and hers" about debt.
"Student loans, credit card debt, it all becomes your debt together," she said.
Couples must track expenses and create a budget, the financial planner said. A big part of a budget is housing, but many young people spend too much money on it.
"They buy all the house they can afford, or they're in the most expensive apartment. It just doesn't work out well in the end," Corbett said. "If anything happens at all, their credit cards are maxed, and they have no way out."
Housing expenses should be no more than 35 percent of a household's take-home income, she said.
Corbett recommends that newlyweds have a joint account to pay the bills and separate accounts for small, everyday expenses. Regardless of which partner actually pays the bills, both people need to be involved enough in their finances so they can both handle the tasks if necessary.
Households should create a plan to get rid of credit card debt and commit to making regular deposits in a savings account. Ideally, they should have at least six months of income saved.
Combined, all of those steps help couples live happily ever after when it comes to money, Corbett said.
"Most people that have a lot of savings and a lot of money invested in things, they didn't have big incomes. They were just really good savers," she said.
Rudder and Sykes said that's the path they plan to follow.
"It's not just mine anymore. It's ours," Sykes said.