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 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 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.
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.
One of our favorite banks is Aspiration because its Summit checking account has no minimums or monthly fees.
Plus, it offers an interest rate 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!
3. 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.
+ 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! It also checks the tracking info for your online orders. If something shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping — up to a full shipping 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.
4. 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.
5. Plan Your (Frugal) Dream Wedding
Weddings can be insanely expensive — but they don’t have to be.
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.
These posts can help you plan a beautiful wedding on a budget:
6. Start Making Snowflakes
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re serious about starting your marriage on the right financial foot. And paying off credit card 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:
Acorns is a simple savings and investment app that rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change. You can connect the app to your credit or debit card and let it automatically round up all your transactions, or manually round up only the ones you choose.
Another option is an app called Qoins, which also rounds up your purchases. The app tracks the roundups and makes withdrawals in about $5 intervals that it automatically pays toward a debt account of your choice each month.
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 would you like to retire? Where? How aggressively do you want to save for it?
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.
8. 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.