8 Major Money Moves You Need to Make Before Saying “I Do”
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 some 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. If you haven’t, better late than never.
The biggest reason — other than your financial security — to start an open conversation about money is that it’ll bring you and your partner closer together.
And it doesn’t have to be scary, more often than not your talk will end with action steps that’ll leave you hopeful for the future.
When Kelan and Brittany Kline got engaged in college their money talk led them to dream about owning a home… it also led them to move back in with their parents.
“We talked about renting an apartment, but it seemed silly to put $1,000 a month into something we wouldn’t gain equity in,” Kelan said.
It was that move and getting together on their finances that led them to be able to buy a home when they were 22.
“We wholeheartedly believe that open communication in a relationship is the key to success” he said. “Being open about our finances has proven time and time again to grow our marriage stronger.”
So as outlined in this post about moving in together, it’s time for your 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.
A — relatively — painless way to do this is to get a free “credit report card” from Credit Sesame.
More important than your credit score is the full financial picture the report card gives you including a complete look at all your debts, who they’re to, and if any are late or in default.
It’s important to be honest, for better or for worse, with your partner about the good and the ugly of your financial situation.
2. 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.
To simplify, open an account dedicated to saving, and put your money to work. One of our favorites is Aspiration — you’ll pay no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY on your savings.
You’ll get access to an online-only account for spending and for saving. The spending account comes with a debit card that earns 0.5% cash back on all your purchases, plus free ATMs, so you can easily access your money when you need it.
After you open your Aspiration account, use it to split your income:
- Automatically deposit a portion of your income into your spending account, and use that to cover basic expenses like rent and bills, plus fun stuff; like eating out, shopping or going on vacation.
- Deposit what’s left into your Aspiration savings to keep it out of sight and let it grow. You’ll earn 2.00% APY as long you deposit just $1 a month. We recommend squirreling more when you can, but we like that you won’t lose the perk when you can’t.
3. Tackle Your Credit Card Debt
Sometimes “for better or for worse” includes taking on your spouse’s credit card or other high-interest debt. Don’t let it get you down. Instead, take those balances down in a smart way.
That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands dollars in interest.
Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. If your credit score is at least 620, its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
4. Start Saving for Your Future
Saving is tough, and having a spouse doesn’t make it any easier. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?
Digit makes that possible.
This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.
Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
5. Start Your New Life Together With This Free Wedding Planner
When John Horner proposed to Alyssa Casares in July 2017, she was elated. They immediately started planning the dreamiest wedding day. But the Colorado Springs couple hit a wall when it came to the registry.
“We spent a lot of time debating which stores to register with,” Casares writes in an email. “We didn’t want to register at 100 different places.”
They stumbled upon Zola, which proved to be the perfect solution. It’s a free virtual wedding planner that houses everything you need in one spot — a registry synced with dozens of stores, a free wedding website, invitations, checklists for the big day and a digital guest list to help manage RSVPs and thank-you notes.
Zola is also helping the frugal couple save money. In addition to pie dishes, cutlery and bath towels, their registry includes a honeymoon fund.
“We could pay for these excursions, tours and safaris out of our own pocket, but having someone else ‘gift’ the experience is awesome,” Casares says of their scheduled South Africa adventure.
6. Optimize Your Credit Card Rewards
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you and your partner are missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
7. 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:
If you plan to have kids, how will you raise them? Will you give them an allowance? Will you help them pay for college?
With your partner, compare notes about what your parents did right (or wrong) and decide what your strategy will be.
When you said “I do,” you made a promise to make a future together. That future will look a lot better if you plan for your retirement right now.
If you’re like most people, you have no idea whether your 401(k) is on pace for retirement or just sputtering along.
Chances are, your 401(k) could be doing a lot better. Take control with help from Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that can optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you and keep it speeding toward retirement.
It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.
After that, if you sign up, it’s just $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get the first month free with the code PNNYHRD.
Think of Blooom like a mechanic constantly fine-tuning your car’s engine so it gives you the best possible performance and gas mileage. Except it’s your 401(k) — and your future.
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.
Bonus: 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.
Check out these frequent flyer programs. One of the easiest ways to rack up points and miles is by just using credit cards responsibly.
Travel to a Cheap Destination
Not only would I recommend seeking alternative accommodation when you travel (Airbnb can save you lots!), I’d also suggest seeking an alternative 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.
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 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.