Newlyweds: Avoid these 5 savings mistakes


There's more to money when you're newly married than deciding whether to merge checking and savings accounts. Some experts say couples should experiment to find the combination that suits them best. Whether you are dealing with debt or building a budget, we've picked the top five mistakes couples should avoid to help ensure a blissful money marriage.

Mistake No. 1: Ignoring debt demons

If one partner comes to the chapel carrying a lot of consumer debt, student loan debt or both, the wrong thing to do is expect that partner to find a way to pay off the debt outside of the couple's current budget. Said another way, be a sport and don't let your partner carry the burden alone.

After all, debt is the No. 1 reason couples fight, according to research by So ignoring the problem is like lighting a fuse and silently waiting for the bomb to go off. It's better to confront the issue and find a solution, together.

The best way to do this? Be honest with your partner. If you're the one carrying the debt, explain how it happened and how you want it to change, and offer a plan to get the two of you back on track. On the flip side, listen to your partner's explanation of what happened, encourage him or her to take charge of the situation and work together to come up with a plan.

Mistake No. 2: Forgoing a better budget

Newlyweds often feel like everything can wait until tomorrow. For now, everything is new and fun and exciting. Why spoil it with talk about money?

The excitement of living the married life can cloud the very real task of sitting down and creating a household budget that both pays the bills and pays the relationship, by way of savings and investing.

This can be a challenge as budget worlds collide. One partner might be a meticulous budgeter: every dollar written down and no room for bending the rules. The other might be quick to bend the rules, occasionally break the budget--or have no budget at all.

If this sounds familiar, then you need to find common ground--and compromise. The inflexible budgeter must bend a little. And the no-budget spender has to learn to reel it in a bit. Maybe create a budget line item that allows the spender extra money to burn.

The point is to work together so neither partner feels out of the loop or that what's important to them isn't addressed in the budget. And to make sure that you build a budget together and stick with it.

Mistake No. 3: Not thinking ahead

There had best be an emergency fund built into that better budget. After all, the day will come when the washer breaks, the car dies and you accidentally throw a baseball through the dining room window. And they will probably all happen on the same day.

That's where your emergency fund comes into play. By socking away a small percentage of your combined monthly income, you can learn to weather any financial storm. Maybe even get ahead of your peers, who either have no emergency fund or consider a credit card just as good. (It's not. There are still services out there that only take cash or check. And if you don't pay the credit card in full each month, you're spending more than you have to.)

How much should you save? Most financial experts suggest the equivalent of six months pay. This takes into consideration big emergencies like a job loss or medical issue. You're doing well if you quickly build a $2,000 fund and work toward the six-month goal over the long-term.

Mistake No. 4: Not saving for retirement

The mistake newlyweds make with regard to saving for retirement is believing that they have all the time in the world and more important financial issues should take priority. The truth is, you don't have all the time in the world, and the best time to start saving for retirement is now.

Saving early also means a smaller monthly deposit to reach the same financial outcome. Starting later in life translates into a bigger hit to the wallet. For example, if you save $4,000 a year starting at age 22, you can save $1 million by the time you're 62. Want to reach the same goal, but didn't start saving until you turned 32? That'll cost you $8,800 a year. The older you get, the higher that total gets.

After you agree to start saving, remember to discuss and agree on what to invest in, how to invest and your risk-tolerance level.

Mistake No. 5: Keeping secrets

Finally, be financially honest with one another. If you spend $100 on shoes and keep it to yourself, figuring what your spouse doesn't know won't hurt him or her--well, you're right, it won't. Not right away. But soon it will hurt the budget. And shifts in the budget--especially secret ones--could lead to money problems down the road.

Plus, financial secrets can strain a relationship that's built on trust. It's better to be honest--about how much debt you have, what's important to you in the household budget, how to save and how to invest for a bright future.

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