CHICAGO, IL – August 5, 2014 – Summer is wedding season and an exciting time for newlyweds. However, there is more to marriage than the wedding itself. Couples need to get their financial house in order before tying the knot. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises couples to discuss their financial goals and plans sooner rather than later.
“Knowing where they stand financially can help couples prevent any number of problems in the future,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “This isn’t the most romantic thing to do but it’s something that must be done before saying ‘I do.’”
The BBB offers the following advice for newlyweds:
- Discuss your financial history. After marriage, any personal debt becomes “our debt.” It is important to sit down early when marriage is being discussed to discover what outstanding obligations exist on both sides. These could include car loans, school loans and credit card debt. Review your credit reports to get a better idea what both of you are bringing to the marriage.
- Build a budget. After you’ve gotten a grasp on your debt, it’s time to build a monthly budget. Look at your monthly bills to create a realistic picture of how you spend. Discuss your long term goals—such as buying a house or car and having kids. Figure out how much money to set aside each month to reach those goals.
- Learn to budget as a team. In order to avoid confusion, one person should be assigned to pay the bills every month. This doesn’t mean that the other person takes a back seat role in managing the finances. Have a discussion at least every month about your financial progress in order to map your path and get rid of any bad spending habits.
- Plan for emergencies. Many young couples fail to save money to get them through hard times such as health problems and unexpected unemployment. Experts recommend you set aside three to six months of salary in a rainy day fund—ideally an interest-bearing account that can be easily accessed.
- Save for the future. Retirement may seem like a long way off to newlyweds, but setting aside money now means reaping big rewards later on. Take advantage of both employers’ retirement matching programs—if available—or set up individual retirement accounts. For more tips on saving for retirement, visit www.finra.org
- Make a vow to be savvy consumers. Many families have had their life savings decimated after becoming a victim to fraud or identity theft. Check out your BBB’s website to find trustworthy businesses, get educated on the red flags of fraud and learn how to protect your identity.
For more advice on managing your money, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.