Money + Love Part III: Achieving Post-Honeymoon Financial Bliss

About the Episode

Welcome to the third part of our Money + Love mini series where hosts Cristina and Will discuss achieving post-honeymoon financial bliss with three special guests. They’re joined by returning newlyweds, Jordan and Katie George from Addition Financial, and Clint Proctor from The Wallet Wise Guy. In this episode, our experts reveal ways newlyweds can combine finances, avoid debt, and plan for their future goals.

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Cristina asks Question 1: "What can a newly married couple do to ensure that debt doesn’t become a problem?"

Clint responds: "The first thing you need to do is to be honest with each other about what you have. Keeping secrets will backfire on you and it’ll cause one or both spouses to develop a lack of trust."

"Many people have a misunderstanding of credit scores and how they impact your relationship after you get married. Even though each spouse has their own credit file, you can still impact their credit score in small ways. Adding your spouse as an authorized user to your credit card account can help them build credit history with you. However, missed payments can also impact your credit score as well."

"The most important thing is to not play the blame game with debt. Make a plan of how you guys will move forward together as a married couple and what the future needs to look like."

Learn more: 5 Steps to Managing Credit Card Debt When You're Young



Will asks Question 2: "How should married couples plan and save for their retirement?"

Katie responds: "Couples should discuss their risk tolerance when it comes to saving up for retirement. Some people don’t mind taking risks to get long-term gains while others prefer the slow and steady approach. You need to understand where each of you stands before you make decisions about how to invest. Think about what type of retirement accounts you want to invest in and how much you’re able to contribute each month."

Jordan also responds: "It’s important to proportionally balance the payments to your income, especially if one person earns more than the other. It’s also a good idea to sit down and reevaluate your retirement savings and investments every once in a while to ensure you’re on the right track. I love the online dashboards and tools available nowadays to help track your progress. You want to regularly make sure that your investments are performing the way you want them to and that you’re contributing at a consistent pace to achieve your retirement goals."

Learn more: Retirement Strategies: When Do I Start Saving for Retirement?



Cristina asks Question 3: "When should couples start talking about combing their finances? Since this could be a stressful topic for some couples, how can they talk about it with minimum stress?"

Clint responds: "I recommend opening joint savings and checking accounts even if you’re not going to combine all of your assets together. This will allow you to have some money to split your shared expenses and reach your savings goals. I also suggest looking into budgeting apps that are specifically designed for couples."

Learn more: Separate Bank Accounts vs. Combining Finances After Marriage



Will asks Question 4: "We talked about this in part I of our Money + Love series, but I’d like to hear from Clint: What are some issues that can arise when there’s a big difference in the income partners earn and what advice would you give to couples who are navigating that?"

Clint responds: "That’s a great question. If everything’s going into a joint account, it’s all community property. But you’re right that sometimes the partner who’s earning more may be resentful if the other partner overspends – or the partner who earns less may feel that they’re not contributing enough to the joint expenses. It’s helpful to think of contributions as proportional even when payments are coming from a joint account. For example, if one partner earns twice as much as the other, they should contribute twice as much to joint expenses."

Learn more: 5 Financial Money Problems in Marriage & What to Do About Them



Cristina asks Question 5: "What advice would you give newlyweds that know they want to start growing their family soon? How should they financially prepare for having children?"

Clint responds: "There are several financial pieces I would suggest they have in place before considering growing their family. This includes a stable income, emergency and retirement funds, and medical and short-term disability insurance. In Florida, the costs of all deliveries ranges from $8,000 to $13,000 depending on where you’re located. I recommend putting money away in a health savings account to start the process of saving for kids."

Learn more: A Financial Perspective: When is the Right Time to Have a Baby?



Will asks Question 6: "What advice would you give to married couples about budgeting?"

Katie responds: "I think setting goals and starting on a positive note are some of the most important things when it comes to budgeting."

Jordan also responds: "Budgeting doesn’t necessarily mean deprivation, which is a common misconception. You can still have fun and spend your money, but those things should be in your budget. It’s all about finding a balance between those things."

Clint also responds: "The biggest mistake we made early on in our marriage was that we only budgeted for monthly expenses. This would include our rent, groceries, insurance, and car payments. However, I later realized that unexpected non-monthly expenses such as car repairs, home repairs, holidays, birthdays, vacations, and health costs were important things we needed to save up for. As a result, we created ‘roll over budgets’ to pay for those categories throughout the entire year."

Learn more: How to Manage Your Money Effectively on Any Budget



Will asks Quick Question 1: "What do you think is the most important thing couples can do when it comes to discussing their money?"

Katie responds: "Check your ego at the door and don’t place blame. It’s not really about who makes more or less money when you’re married. It’s about managing that money so your married life can be financially stable and comfortable without financial disagreements."



Will asks Quick Question 2: "That’s great advice. And for fun: what was the weirdest thing you experienced when you and Jordan combined your finances?"

Katie responds: "Since we’ve only been married for over a month, I’d have to get back to you if I uncover anything. However, we have been through a few hurricanes together in Florida, and one time Jordan took a bunch of money out of the ATM before the hurricane came. So for a year, he would pay for everything with five dollar bills since it was the only thing the machine gave him."



Cristina asks Quick Question 3: "Jordan, you’re next. What can couples do to manage their financial expectations?"

Jordan responds: "Talk to each other to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and hurt feelings. Get to an agreement on what your goals are and talk about them on a regular basis."

Download our SMART Financial Goal Setting Worksheet



Cristina asks Quick Question 4: "Speaking of uncomfortable, what’s the biggest dispute you and Katie have had about money?"

Jordan responds: "That’s a tough one. Katie would probably disagree with me, but we have recurring disputes about me being an over saver. Now that we have a joint account, both of our paychecks go into our checking and then I immediately whisk every penny of excess money away into a savings account. I think Katie would like to have a little bit of a buffer, though."

Katie also responds: "That’s definitely a recurring one, but you’ve been better about giving me more buffer room. I just get nervous about my card getting declined when I buy groceries or when there’s an unexpected fee where I have to quickly move money over. Nobody likes surprises like that when it comes to money in a relationship. The other thing that was hard for me was when Jordan left to run errands and he came back with a new car."



Will asks Quick Question 5: "What can couples do to avoid disputes over spending?"

Clint responds: "The key is to talk about your personal goals and make sure you understand each other’s backgrounds and experiences and how they shape your money expectations. For example, my wife’s family really enjoys eating out while my family prioritized traveling instead.
When it came to money that didn’t need to be allocated towards the bills, I would find myself feeling frustrated that we weren’t saving for a trip while she was feeling upset that I didn’t want to go out to eat. Neither of these expenses were necessary or right or wrong, it just happened to deal with what we liked spending money on. So we met in the middle to make sure that both of those needs were being met. I think it helps to have an agreed-upon limit on what either partner can spend without the other’s consent. That way there are no surprises and you’re both involved in major purchasing decisions."



Will asks Quick Question 6: "Is there a spender and a saver in your relationship – and if so, which one are you?"

Clint responds: "I am the saver, and my wife is the spender. Don’t be fooled though, we have it split it up. I still put some of our spending money from every single paycheck into our savings account because it’s a compulsion for me to save."



In this episode, Cristina and Will shared the SMART Financial Goal Setting Worksheet. It’s got information and guidance to help couples set financial goals using the SMART acronym – that stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

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