The first years of marriage can be taxing on your finances but it’s important to avoid falling into the loan trap where possible.
Wedding and honeymoon expenses are often enormous, starting married couples off on a financial back foot. However, the excitement of newly married life can still encourage a state of mind which allows you to spend more than you normally might.
Here are some things which can catch couples out financially, especially in the first few years while you’re both figuring out how it works….
Joint bank accounts
If you’re newly married or have bought a house together, it’s possible that you will have opened a joint bank account.
While it may feel like you have more financial security together (two incomes are safer than one, right?) the very opposite could be true. With two of you withdrawing from one account, it is possible that you may not be communicating well about your spending. For example, have you designated one of you to be responsible for checking monthly statements, or set a daily spending limit? Going through receipts and statements could deliver a shock, so make sure you know exactly who’s paying for what, and that you both have a realistic grip on your personal expenditure.
One of you out of work
Many couples go through phases when one will need to support the other. Redundancies, career changes and having children are the main reasons for single-income marriages, and figures show that in 2011 over 850,000 people in the UK were unemployed for more than 12 months.
This is one situation where you may have no other option than to accept an intermediate loan – but there are things you can do to increase the chances of remaining in control of your debts.
For example, you can look at your lifestyle as a couple and assess where cutbacks might be made until you are both back in work. Are there routines you stick to, like ordering a takeaway each weekend, or having a ‘date night’ once a week? Things like this are important in keeping your relationship alive, but you may want to try other options, such as making a new dish together each week or taking up a cheap joint hobby.
Leisure and Romance
In fact, this is one area where it can be nice to make changes, regardless of your financial situation. Thinking of new and creative ways of enjoying your time together can be fun and save you money.
Figures point towards more and more people eating and entertaining at home instead of going out, and SAS Verdict Research predicts that by 2015 a new culture of take-out food and drink will develop, with cafes and restaurants catering specifically for the lower budget and staying open into the evening.
This could mean fewer spontaneous post-work meals out, and more time making the most out of that mortgage you scrimp and save to pay!
Money worries can put a strain on any relationship – so make sure you don’t fall into the debt trap. When considering whether a loan or credit card is the way forward, ask yourself: do I have the income to pay it off? If the answer is no, you may want to consider what it is about your situation which makes you want to spend more than you have.
Remember – when you take out a loan as a married person, you are no longer solely responsible for the repayments. If you share a house with your husband or wife, you may also be putting their home in jeopardy if you get into excess, which is not the most romantic gesture!
Talk through your options together, and let others (such as family and close friends) know if you’re in real difficulty. They may be able to help emotionally or even financially. And remember, marriage is a partnership, which means having somebody you can always talk to and share problems with. If you’re worried about money, your spouse is probably the person who will be able to give you the best support.
This post was written by John Hughes who is the resident blogger at www.independentfinancialadvisor.co.uk, a UK based site that provides access to financial advisors as well as to debt advice charities for those struggling with their debts.