Finding that special person who means everything to you can be once in a lifetime. After all the excitement settles from the engagement parties, wedding dance lessons, rehearsal dinner, the actual ceremony and a reception, it is time to settle down. Real life after a fairytale romance can be jarring if you are not emotionally and mentally prepared. It is not something that you ever quite get a handle on, but a continual race to stay on top. You are not playing house anymore, but actually running your own household.
Here are some easy tips to help adjust into adulthood past the newlywed phase:
Learn how to budget. Before the wedding, you should have had a “money talk” to discuss spending habits, saving philosophies and to discuss any debt. The worst thing would be to get married and learn your dearest beloved has a mountain of debt. If you have not already had a chat, start now. And make it a habit. Set a goal to sit down and discuss finances at least once a month. This will keep you in check and aligning your priorities when spending your money.
Your budget should include how much you plan to spend on the necessary things: grocery, transportation (gas, etc), utilities (power, gas, heating), cell phone and land line bills, car payments, rent/mortgage payments, and personal items like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste. Then factor is wants: entertainment like dates, gifts, clothes and other personal items. Compare these needs and wants to how much money you are making. If you are not making enough, cut down on the wants and scrimp on the needs. Learn to use coupons, only buy things when they are on sale and learn to be creative.
Another cost that is often forgotten is insurance. Make plans for low cost health insurance coverage as well as car and renters/home insurance. It may seem like a lot now, but it can save you from serious financial trouble if you have them. Also factor in any credit card debt payments. The goal is to never charge something to your credit card unless you have to.
Start to save. It may seem difficult to have money just sitting in a bank account as you are itching to spend it. But resisting to spend your savings can help you in the long run when you find you need it. It may seem hard to save at the beginning, but start small. The goal is to have enough savings of living expenses for three months. This emergency fund can save you if you ever get laid off or are in a financial emergency. Also keep a long-term savings account for items like a down payment on a home or car. And keep a smaller savings account as a slush fund for little unexpected expenses like fixing your car and doctors appointments.
Learn to communicate. Financial disagreements are one of the biggest causes for divorce. No one should enter a marriage with divorce as a viable option. You need to prepare yourself for the challenges that life throws at you. Learn to compromise when it comes to money (and really, everything else). Being able to lean on each other in a financial crisis can be the difference between saving a marriage and divorce.
As a newlywed couple, it may seem daunting to enter the real world. But with preparation and a desire to become financially secure, that is just one less thing to worry about.