Love and money: 5 tips for newlyweds

By UK CreditCards.com

If you've followed in the footsteps of Kate and William and have recently married, or if you're planning to tie the knot this summer, then your joint financial affairs are likely to be the last thing on your mind. However, once you're married, it's important that you have a shared approach to money. 

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61 per cent of consumers admit that discussions about household finances turn into arguments, according to a recent American Express survey. That number rose to 70 per cent for young professional people, who are among the most likely to marry for the first time.

If you, too, are eager to start your marriage off on the right financial footing and avoid financial squabbles, here are five tips for your first year:

1. Update your credit file.
Once you're married, make sure you tell the credit reference agencies and all the financial institutions that you have accounts with that you have changed your name and/or address. Otherwise, you could be surprised in the future by a returned application. When a credit reference agency has the wrong information about you, it can easily cause you to be declined for credit.

2. Merge your finances -- but retain some independence.
Consider opening a joint credit card account that you both manage, but retain single accounts for your own spending, says marital counsellor Gregory Kuhlman of stayhitched.com.

He believes that whilst newlyweds should open a joint bank account or have joint credit cards for household expenses, they should retain some financial independence. "A lot of couples, including my wife and myself, have joint accounts for paying bills and other essentials but maintain separate accounts for discretionary spending purchases," said Mr Kuhlman in an interview with Reuters. 

3. Make a plan for how you will tackle your current and future debts -- together.
Credit cards and marriage can sometimes be a volatile mix, and debts are a common cause of marital arguments. It's likely that both you and your partner accumulated your own debts before you were married, and now you have to suddenly deal with them together.

That can lead to serious disagreements if you don't communicate early on, which is why it's vital that you sit down and work out a plan of how you will go about dealing with your debts together.

Similarly, if you plan to use credit cards or loans to buy items in the future, ensure you have a shared approach of how you plan to manage this borrowing by discussing it beforehand.

4. Consider life insurance.
Even if you don't have any children, it's important that you insure each other's lives. If you are both working and contributing to the household income, then the surviving spouse could find themselves in a difficult financial position in the event of the other's death. And, if you do have children, make sure that you take additional cover to replace your income or to pay for childcare in the event of your untimely death.

In addition, consider taking out life insurance in your own name rather than a joint policy. This will ensure that your policy can remain if you split up in the future. It also effectively doubles the amount of cover you have as both policies will pay out on death, unlike a joint contract which will pay once.

5. Start saving.
Now that you're married, it may be time to think about building up some savings. Perhaps you want to buy a home together or simply build up an ‘emergency fund' that you can use in the future.

Signing up for a savings account is the first place to start. Regular savings accounts offer excellent rates of interest if you plan to put some cash away every month, whilst Individual Savings Accounts (ISA) allow you to maximise your individual tax-free savings account entitlements.

See related: How to fund wedding expenses with a credit card; Credit cards: Who wears the trousers in your household? 

Published: 21 June 2011