The best advice you'll be given as newlyweds is to start saving money as soon as possible. It's not quite as difficult as it seems and with the right tricks in your financial toolbox, it's child's play!
Dealing with finances should be a shared experience. It doesn't need to be tedious or frustrating if you work together and get the basics right from the get go. Discuss how you'll split the bills, what you'd like to save for, and how you think your household budget should work. Here are 10 tips to help.
#1) The joys of a joint bank account
Joint accounts may take some getting used to, but they have some great advantages. Using a joint account to pay bills is both convenient and it's a great way to save on bank fees. You and your partner may also choose to keep your separate accounts and pay into the joint account what is necessary to cover the bills.
You can use a joint account for more than just paying bills. You could use a joint savings account or term deposit account. A joint account is a good way to pool resources.
To open a joint account you and your partner will need to go into the bank. It's best to opt for the option that you both need to sign off on transactions on this account.
#2) Have an open and honest conversation about debt
Don't wait for years to find out that debt is an issue in your marriage. By having the debt talk early on you can avoid some sticky situations and get on the same page with your partner.
Topics you might consider:
- How you both feel about gambling and credit cards
- The debt you both brought into the marriage
- Your views on managing debt in the future
- Your retirement plans and dreams
#3) Savings vs debt
Debt is an unavoidable part of life and now you'll be getting into it together. As the saying goes, "a burden shared is a burden halved".
Squash high-interest debts first
If you and your partner decide to pay off some of your outstanding accounts, start by paying off anything that charges you more than 7% interest per month. High-interest debt, like credit cards, are a drain on your income.
By the time you've finished paying them off, you've repaid the original debt several times over. The best way to squash your high-interest debt is to repay more than the minimum instalment each month.
The more your outstanding balance drops, the less you'll pay back in interest. When choosing which debt to clear first consider leaving debts with an early repayment penalty for last. When you start doing this, start off with one account at a time so you don't drain your finances.
#4) Start saving for a deposit on a home
Paying rent is all good and well, but one day you two may like a place to call your own. After all, if you pay rent for the next 20 years you will probably have paid off someone else's home loan. Property is also a great investment and property owners have more options financially.
To make paying off a home loan cheaper you could put down a nice big deposit. The more money you put down as a deposit the less you'll need to borrow from the bank. One of the benefits to this is that you'll pay less in interest fees. Setting up a no-fee, interest accruing savings account for your deposit is a good start.
#5) Set short, medium, and long-term financial goals together
The future isn’t set in stone, and you can't plan for every contingency. But having financial goals will make working towards your dreams a lot easier. Planning together is a good way to be on the same page about where you're going, and what you'll need to get there.
Everything from being debt-free in the next 10 years to having enough money to put your kids through college in the next 20 years, these are things that need both of you working together to accomplish. Set goals for your wedding anniversaries, family holidays, and retirement trips.
#6) Create a budget to make the household run smoothly
If you want to save money and still eat well, then a budget is the way to go. Sit down together and compare your income and expenses and start planning. The earlier you start doing this the easier it will be to stick to.
Things to consider when setting up your budget:
- What do you have left after you've paid the bills
- What you need
- What will you put toward savings
- What you want
Budgeting is a good way to keep an eye on your expenses, make sure there aren't odd deductions on your bank account, and start a savings plan.
#7) Have a savings account for each of your goals
This is a good way to help you stick to your goals. Once they're set, open an account for each. When you budget your savings spread them out between these accounts. It may be hard to spread your savings that thin. Rotating the accounts you pay your savings into every month is a good way to get around that.
Even if you only put $10 into each every month, you'll be building your dreams one brick at a time. Having designated accounts will help you keep the goals you set together in perspective. There are ways to set up accounts to grow your savings.
How to boost your savings
When you are looking for a savings account, make sure you check the fees. There is no point in having a savings account that gets eaten away by bank charges. Look for accounts that offer interest. Compare different banks and compare the following:
- The interest rate offered
- How often it's paid
- If there is a limit on how much money you can save in that account
Putting your money into a no-fee savings account with as high an interest rate as you can get will boost your savings.
#8) Start planning for retirement
It's never too early to start planning for retirement. Now that there are two of you it could be a good idea to take a look at your Super and see if there's room for improvement. Compare your super's performance over the last five years to others.
Compare the fees, insurance, and services offered by other providers. If you decide to switch providers there may be fees attached, this is important to know beforehand. If you have more than one Super, you can save money on fees by consolidating them. Remember to check your insurance before switching funds, you may not get the same cover on a new fund.
#9) Live beneath your means
Besides saving this is probably the best advice you'll ever be given. It's not easy and it takes careful planning and work, but the result is worth it. When you live below your means you'll ensure that you can stay well clear of debt and have extra left over to save for all your short, medium, and long term goals!
#10) Stick to your budget!
It'll take time to find one that is workable, but once you have perfected it, you two need to hold each other accountable. A good budget makes room for a little luxury. Put every spare bit of money into one of your savings accounts. And don't take on debt unless there's no alternative!