When my husband and I were dating, we had a blast together. We’d go hiking, out to dinner, see movies and goof off. It was easy for me to say yes when he proposed – and I can imagine it being the same way for lots of other newlywed couples. The easy part is falling in love, but I bet your financial situation isn’t really at the top of your mind when your spouse proposes.
You’re allowed to go into an “engagement coma “(as I like to call it), but don’t let it last too long! When you’re combining your lives together forever, you’ve got to buckle down and be serious and open about your finances especially as a military couple.
Here are my 5 tips about talking money with your servicemember spouse to get on the same page about your combined personal finances!
1. Have the Money Talk. Duh.
We can’t stress it enough. For me, money talk isn’t so romantic, but it’s a must. You should really try to discuss things before you put your marriage on paper because the last thing you would want to do to your spouse is to throw them financially off guard! Do you have student loan debt like myself? Tell them! Or are you contributed to a car payment? Be sure your spouse is privy to all your financial responsibilities at the start of your marriage – and it goes both ways!
2. Start a Joint Account.
It’s helpful to have an account that you both share. I have always been very proprietary with my money. Initially, the idea of opening up my financial spending to my husband was difficult. There are ways around it! You don’t need to completely let go of your personal bank account. I kept my personal checking and savings to track things for myself and our joint account was responsible for keeping our BAH, COLA, FSA (when he was overseas), etc. that we both managed. Also, we use our joint account for bill paying that way we can keep each other in check.
3. Set-up a Budget.
I don’t know how we would have been able to buy all our household goods without it! Right when we got married, we put together a strict budget on how much we’re saving for our first home together. My husband was coming from barracks living and I lived in a glorified closet in NYC. Therefore, we had nothing when we PCSed. That budget we put together was VERY helpful it furnishing our apartment here at our first duty station together!
4. Learn How to Read Your Spouse’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
My husband and I actually used his LES while planning our newlywed budget. I suggest asking your spouse for at least a limited access account. When my husband was overseas, I was able to help keep track of our Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and Family Separation Allowance (FSA). We utilized the funds to create a budget along with my finances to set ourselves up with our newlywed budget.
Check out this 5 minute tutorial on how to read your LES from Military Money Chica:
5. Save Up for a “Rainy Day” Fund!
Don’t forget to set some money aside for a much needed vacation or if you’re looking to purchase a new car. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have something to fall back on when a sudden TDY or change of station hits. My husband and I use our joint savings as our “rainy day” fund. We put a percentage of our extra funds at the end of the month in this account, but you can collect the money anyway you want!
What are your best money management tips for newlyweds? Share them with us below!