Recently engaged? Congrats!
Between tasting cake and trying on dresses, being financially responsible is probably the last thing on your mind…
But, before walking down the aisle, it’s essential you and your fiancé get on the same page.
Specifically, here are eight financial steps to take after getting engaged to help get you there.
1. Have the Money Talk
Hopefully, since you’ve committed to spending your life together, you’ve already talked money with your honey. But if you haven’t, better late than never.
As I outlined in this post about moving in together, you should have a DTM (Define The Money).
“Schedule a time to talk so that your partner doesn’t feel blindsided and so that you can each do a little homework beforehand if need be,” suggests love and money expert Farnoosh Torabi.
Share important numbers like your income, debt and approximate credit scores.
Discuss how you’ll merge your finances once you’re married, and what (if anything) else will change money-wise.
Need help getting started? This 7-day couples challenge pops up in your inbox each day for a week and features daily tips and activities to help you and your partner get talking about important financial topics. It also teaches you to spend less as a couple — and be more intentional.
2. Get Drunk and Look at Your Credit Scores
Once you’ve had the money talk, it’s time to verify your credit scores. Since this can be a sobering experience, we recommend having a few drinks beforehand.
You can check your scores for free on Credit Sesame — you don’t even need a credit card to sign up. You’ll also get a free credit report card to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.
If you discover one (or both) of your credit scores is less than ideal, then it’s time to create an action plan.
3. Open a Joint Savings Account
If you don’t already live together, you will soon. So it’s probably time to open a joint bank account.
Not only will this make it easier to pay your shared bills, but you can also use it to save up for your wedding expenses.
Plus, it offers an interest rate that’s around 100 times what a normal bank offers.
By keeping your wedding savings in a separate, online-only account, you’ll be less likely to touch it. And by keeping it in an interest-earning account, it’ll grow even faster than you anticipated!
4. Earn Some Extra Dough
You know what’s super romantic? Not going into debt — or dipping into savings — to pay for your wedding.
If you need some extra money to pad your new joint account, here are a few ideas:
+ Mypoints: Weddings are expensive, which is why I like to use a cash-back rewards site like MyPoints. Once you sign up for a free account, it’ll give you 1.4% cash back on purchases at Target, 5.4% at Walmart — and even 2.7% back at MyWeddingFavors. There are more than 1,000 stores on its list, so you can purchase nearly everything using this method.
+ Swagbucks: Most of you already know about this company, but did you know that they will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news, along with dozens of other videos? You can earn up to $225/month, plus they give you $5 just for signing up.
+ Paribus: Let this company scan your email archives for receipts and they’ll look for companies that owe you money. It’s completely passive — if there’s a price drop on something you purchased, Paribus will get you a refund!
+ ShopTracker: This is another set it and forget it platform. This company will pay you up to $40/year to share what you’re purchasing on Amazon. It’s not a ton of money, but it takes about 2 minutes to set up and then you never have to think about it again.
5. Plan Your (Frugal) Dream Wedding
For starters, the stat about weddings costing $30,000 is inflated; you and I both know it’s possible to host a lovely event for much less than that.
Here are some posts to help you plan a beautiful wedding on a budget:
6. Pick Out Those Tablecloths
Speaking of planning a wedding, if you’ve ever been around anyone one, you quickly learn it involves an endless amount of choices.
So, you might as well get started early.
You’re going to need a venue, florist, caterer, photographer, cake… the list goes on. (And I’m already getting overwhelmed.)
For a one-stop shop for all your wedding planning needs, check out Wedding.com.
On its free platform, you can search for vendors, compare quotes, read reviews — even create your website and manage RSVPs.
“Within hours of telling us what you need,” it promises, “you’ll receive proposals from several local professionals ready to help make your big day a success.”
I’ll let you handle all of that — just invite me for the cake tasting, k?
7. Start Making Snowflakes
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re serious about starting your marriage on the right financial foot. And paying back debt is probably one of your goals.
You may have heard of Dave Ramsey’s snowball method — but what about the snowflake method?
With this strategy, instead of making one lump payment each month, you make several smaller payments.
“Basically, any time you find yourself with extra cash, you should use it to make a payment on your credit card,” explains Mike Peterson at DebtGuru.
Why does this work?
“If you wait and save up to make a large, traditional credit card payment, that extra money might just slip through your fingers,” he continues.
But these micropayments (whether they’re $2 or $200) slowly chip away at your balance.
“If you do that again the next week, and the next, all of those small payments start to stack up,” he says.
Wondering where you can get small amounts of money to use as debt snowflakes? We’ve got a couple ideas:
This app wants to know things like how long you’re on FB everyday and they’ll pay you for every month you share your data. You’ll earn $5 per device for each month SavvyConnect is installed on one of your devices and you can earn up to a total of $180 per year.
8. Discuss Your Future Goals
To build your ideal future together, you have to figure out what it looks like first.
Although you’ve probably already covered most of the biggies, it won’t hurt to do a deeper dive on the following topics:
Raising kids who are money-smart — but not spoiled — can be challenging, but is well worth the effort.
With your partner, compare notes about what your parents did right (or wrong) and decide what your strategy will be.
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page, then plan for the future accordingly.
What are your priorities? Would you rather have a nice car, or frequent vacations? Is a big house important to you?
Money can cause a lot of tension in relationships — often due to differing views on how to spend it. Clarify your priorities before they become a problem.
9. Book a Bodacious Honeymoon
Once all the madness is over, it’s time to get away. (Personally, I feel like this is one of the most exciting parts about getting married!)
Your honeymoon might seem like a long time away, but the earlier you start the booking process, the cheaper it will be.
Whether you want an urban adventure or a beachside escape, here are a few ways to make it more affordable:
Use Points and Miles
If you start early, you might even be able to fund your honeymoon entirely on miles and points.
One of the easiest ways to rack up points and miles is by using credit cards responsibly. But what if you can’t (or don’t want to) get involved in that shtick?
You can still collect travel rewards.
One easy way is with Frequent Flyer, an app offering frequent flyer miles in exchange for your location data.
Translation? All you have to do is keep it running in the background of your smartphone.
Plus, you can earn even more miles by entering sweepstakes, completing surveys and referring friends.
Travel to a Cheap Destination
Instead of Italy, visit Croatia; instead of Hawaii, head to Mexico. No matter what you want, there’s probably an alternate destination to serve your needs for half the price.
For some inspiration, check out this list of six destinations where dinner for two is less than $20.
Book Your Flights Carefully
A lot of factors determine how much you’ll pay for your plane tickets. Your best tool in the fight against sky-high ticket prices? Knowledge.
By following these eight steps before you say “I do,” you’ll give your new marriage the solid financial foundation it needs — hopefully allowing your money to last as long as your love does.
Your Turn: Are you engaged or married? What steps would you add to this list?
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Adding these links helps us keep the lights on in The Penny Hoarder HQ, which makes it a lot easier to play shuffleboard after a long day of deal-seeking!