8 Major Money Moves You Need to Make Before Saying “I Do”
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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. Make Everything Easier With a 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.
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.
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!
4. Earn Some Extra Dough
When Alayna and Ken Pehrson got engaged at 22 & 24, it was the first time Alayna ever cared about her savings.
She wanted to start her marriage with a solid nest egg so she took on a part-time job — while still in school.“I was lucky to find an internship that paid me and so, I decided to save whatever I made at my part-time job” she told The Penny Hoarder.
Of course she would’ve loved to upgrade her ‘98 Accord, but she was discovering a new set of priorities. “My eyes were set on the future and how that money would come in handy when I got married.”
If you’re not a natural saver then don’t put more pressure on yourself right now trying to be one. Make saving simple by earning a little extra money.
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 is a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It's free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.
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. Get Drunk and Look at Your Credit Scores
Kevin Mahoney of Illumint is a financial planner but says compared to most years, he thought more about money around his wedding than any other season.
“I’d say we did much more financial analysis and decision-making right before our engagement — well, me at least! — during our engagement and right after we got married” he said.
One of the decisions he and his wife Ashley made was to refinance his student loans. And after shopping around for the best rate, he was able to cut his interest rate in half.
If you're not sure where to start with paying off debt and improving your credit, we recommend taking a peek at your credit report.
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 — Credit Sesame has some recommendations for that, too.
6. 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:
7. 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.
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:
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.
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.