Being a newlywed is an exciting time of life, but it can also be stressful. Combining incomes and debts can ease financial stress in some ways and compound it in others. There are some things that you’ll have to go into debt for, but newlyweds should be particularly careful that they’re not overextending themselves financially.
Here are 5 things you should be saving for from the moment the honeymoon is over.
One or both of you probably has a car (unless you’re both starving college students), but you’ll want to start saving up for a long-term car that both of you can be happy driving. If you’re still trying to pay your way through school and drop down to one car, you’ll need to make sure that the one you keep is reliable. Start saving up for emergency car repairs (more on that later), monthly maintenance requirements, and eventually a new car that you can rely on completely.
A car is a big investment. Don’t settle for something that you can’t trust, but don’t blow your bank account on the newest model just to keep up with the Joneses. If you can avoid going into deep debt for a vehicle, do so. Try setting aside enough money each month for a car payment—when you have enough saved up, buy the car with cash and avoid having to pay interest and more expensive insurance.
Emergencies are something you don’t plan for, but must prepare for. If your house floods, your car breaks down, or you have unexpected medical bills, you might be in trouble if you don’t have an emergency fund. Set aside a certain percentage of each paycheck to go into an emergency savings account. You don’t want to be slammed with a hospital bill that you have no way to pay for, or have your heating or air conditioning go out (Edmonton has some great home system companies if you do get caught without AC in August) at an inconvenient time.
It might seem strange to save up for something that may or may not happen, but old houses and cars have any number of problems, and anyone can get hurt at any time. Don’t let your newlywed sense of invulnerability get in the way of common sense.
Not everything young couples should save up for has to be practical. As soon as your honeymoon is over, you’ll want to start saving up for your next big vacation. Spending time as a brand new family is important to keep your relationship strong and healthy, and working together for that tour of Europe or cruise to the Caribbean will bring you closer together.
Going into debt for a vacation isn’t recommended, however. Vacations should be paid for with cash, especially in the early years of your marriage when you still might be trying to find your first big job or pay off student debts. If you can’t afford a few weeks in Paris and Rome, take weekend getaways and weekly dates until you’ve saved up enough to pay for your bigger trip with cash.
Your first home is one of the most exciting purchases you’ll make as a new couple. Everyone dreams of the day they move into their first home. However, it’s not a purchase you can make lightly. Buying a house might be incredibly exciting, but it is also probably the biggest investment you will ever make.
Start saving up as soon as you get settled in your first rental or apartment. Sit down and make a plan for how much of your income is going to go into your “first house savings account,” and talk with your bank about loans and credit well in advance. Make sure you have all the information you need to make wise decisions. Save up enough cash for first few payments just in case of an emergency, and have long-term plans for paying the house off as soon as possible.
Getting Out of Debt
This is one isn’t quite something you “save up for,” necessarily, but it’s quite possibly the most important thing you can do you with your money, especially for a newlywed couple. The sooner you can pay off your individual debts (that now belong to both of you), the sooner you can focus on more important things like that new house or supporting a family. If you’re both trying to make payments for your financed wedding, brand new car, student loans, and other debts that have piled up, you might begin to feel the stress on your marriage. Experts say that financial concerns is one of the most common reasons for broken marriages; being free of debt as soon as possible will alleviate that burden.
Do your best to live frugally until you have your debt under control. Don’t spend extravagantly until you can truly afford it—save what you can, and make getting out of debt a priority.
Finances are not easy to deal with, but if you’re smart with your investments, you can avoid debt and build up a healthy savings while you’re at it.
Melanie Hargrave recently had to get a temporary air conditioner from Comfortable Home because she didn’t have an emergency savings to repair the one in her home. She enjoys blogging about her experiences and helping others avoid the same mistakes she makes. She also loves reading, being outdoors, and spending time with her family.