Setting Up Your First Budget as a Couple

checkbook Newlyweds face many challenges as they seek to form their own family unit. They struggle to get along with in-laws, they have to put up with their spouse’s snoring and bad habits, and they must learn to think in terms of “us” instead of “me.” Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges they face is that of constructing a budget for their new household.

Engaged couples do well to sit down together and look over their financial status, making important decisions for their future. Will they both continue to work, or will one stay home? Will they keep both their cars, or will they try to make one work? How large of a home or apartment will they really need, and what can they afford? They should also consider how their finances look when put together. Are there now two student loans? Two car payments? Are there two sets of medical bills? How much debt is each partner bringing to the marriage, and what are their plans to pay off those debts?

Each partner comes from a different background, and so their expectations might be different. She may have lived at home until her marriage, and so she might be used to having nicer furniture and electronics, things her parents worked hard to afford. It might be a culture shock for her to realize that she won’t have such nice things for some time. Or perhaps he is used to watching the sports channel on cable every day, and is upset to learn he can no longer afford this luxury. It’s important for each person to share their thoughts, their needs, and their desires so they can draw up an accurate picture of what they need to include in their budget. They should also be willing to give up certain things that aren’t crucial, in order to keep within the budget’s boundaries.

You’ll encounter these same challenges no matter what your age when you marry. Perhaps you’re older, and are remarrying or marrying for the first time. You may find that you are a little more set in your ways and it’s hard to compromise. But as you talk with your fiancé and determine what you can and cannot afford, loving communication will be key in helping you form a new lifestyle, one you will enjoy together.

The main goal is to keep finances from creating stress in your new marriage. Even if you are bogged down with debt, as long as you face it together, as a team, it can bring you closer together.

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