There’s three things that aren’t to be discussed in polite company: politics, religion, and money. But of course, for engaged couples, it’s essential that you talk about your finances BEFORE you get married. As renowned Finance and Debt Counselor Suze Orman says, “if you aren’t on the same page about money, you won’t be married for long.”
A few months prior to the wedding, we opened our first joint account. It felt a little bit like getting married before getting married. I mean, merging your money is serious business! I had never shared money with any of my previous partners, always keeping my finances separate. My partner, on the other hand, only had a shared account with her ex, and not a personal chequing account.
After talking over our wants and needs, we opted to have four accounts: one joint chequing for all our shared expenses, one joint savings for vacations, and our two personal chequing accounts. We also both have tax-free savings accounts (TFSA), so in total we have 6 places to put our money.
For the first couple of months after the wedding, we weren’t really watching our spending. We thought we were still in the ballpark of the new spending budget we’d set when we moved into our new apartment in June (which saw an increase in rent). So a while back when we decided to add up our monthly spending, we were shocked at how far over budget we’d gone on food and dining out. We knew we needed to get back on track.
We are very, very fortunate that we didn’t have any wedding debt. But my wife and I now owe tens of thousands in student loans. It sucks, but it’s the reality. I guess we’re just lucky that going back to school in our early 30’s paid off and we’re working in our new career fields, right?
We both recently got iPhones, since they were giving the 4s away for free once the 5s came out (AND I got a cheaper, all-inclusive plan- go figure). So to help us stay on budget, we signed up for Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA), which you can sync between 2 iPhones and the website. So far, it’s been great- whenever we buy something, we can track it immediately so we don’t forget, and then you can see exactly where your money is going, and as the month progresses, how close you are to going over your budget.
The free version allows you to have 10 regular “envelopes”, which is plenty for us. We chose to divide ours like this:
This system works great for us because it’s a digital version of what we did to survive both being students (but back then instead of envelopes we used jars to budget our funds). Now that we have been using EEBA since November, we have a very clear idea of what our monthly budget is, and because we are tracking everything we spend, we are “held accountable”- which avoids impulse and unnecessary spending. It’s been great!
The bonus of knowing exactly what you need each month just to get by, means you also know that you can SAVE the rest, and estimate how much you’ll be able to have saved by a certain date. That sure makes planning vacations and big purchases easier!
If EEBA doesn’t seem like your style, as a couple discuss your options and desires and come up with your own method of getting your finances in order- it will make the honeymoon phase last longer if you’re not dealing with money troubles… Happy Budgeting!