My wife and I took our time when it came to getting married. We were both busy with getting our educations, building careers, and creating stable lives before we finally felt ready to get hitched. In the process, we worked hard at remaining responsible when it came to our financial situations and did our best to make certain money moves that helped stabilize our personal finances.
Paying off Student Loans
One of the first steps we took as we neared the point of officially combining our financial lives was working hard to pay off our student loans. I had loans that amounted to about $8,000 after graduating from college. I paid these off in about a year, and then focused on building a small cash reserve while my wife was in graduate school. There, she accumulated over $40,000 in additional student loans. With our emergency fund built, we could then focus on putting a large majority of any additional cash to paying off her student loans, which we did in less than three years. This left us without the burden of student loans moving forward into matrimony.
Building an Emergency Fund
As I mentioned, we also worked on building an emergency fund. While this fund was relatively small during our student loan payoff period, we slowly grew it nonetheless. Once our loans were paid for, we were able to put additional funds toward this area, making it into a sort of dual emergency fund/down-payment fund for an eventual home.
Staying Debt Free
This was also a period of time in which we worked hard to stay debt-free. While we both had credit cards at the time, neither of us used them excessively and we made sure to pay off any balances each month. We bought vehicles we could afford outright, and we otherwise stayed away from debt accumulating temptation other than my wife's student loans. Taking on less debt in other areas allowed us to free up more money not only for paying off her loans and building emergency funds, but starting retirement accounts as well.
Starting Retirement Accounts
While we weren't putting tons of money toward our retirement future, instead focusing on debt payoff and emergency fund savings, we did both start individual retirement accounts. We ensured that we contributed enough to recognize the employer match so that we weren't losing out on any free money. My wife-to-be factored a little more risk into her portfolio and I was a bit more conservative, so that we balanced each other well in this area.
Keeping Bank Accounts Separate
The success of any relationship is never guaranteed. And while we had little reason to doubt the success of our future together, there was no need to rush into combining our bank accounts and certain other areas of our personal finances. This allowed us to gauge our individual financial successes, failures, and habits, and become better acquainted with our own financial situations before eventually combining them.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional or relationship counselor. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
- Student Loans