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Newlyweds on a Budget: Tips for managing money in your marriage

Erika Torres
by Erika Torres, Dimespring 30 (@newlywedsbudget)

When my husband and I first got married, we had no idea what we were doing financially. Our conversations about money before we got married consisted of:

“So you make this much and I make that much — that should be enough to live on, right?”

READ: When you make more money than your husband

We were young, foolish and in love: a budget’s worst nightmare.

Within the first three months of managing our combined finances, we quickly learned that we were spending a good deal more than we were bringing in and the difference was piling onto our credit cards.

At the time, we didn’t want to limit ourselves. We were newlyweds and still very much in the honeymoon phase. We didn’t think twice about shelling out $100 for a night out with friends, or buying the latest gadgets to spruce up our home.

But as the months crept on, our lifestyle eventually caught up with us and we found ourselves in more than $43,000 worth of debt through a combination of credit cards, a car loan, and student loans.

We needed to come up with a plan and we decided to do whatever it took to get out of debt, even if that meant making a lot of sacrifices.

It wasn’t easy to adapt to living a new budget lifestyle, but we realized it’s what we needed to do in order to become debt-free and we made it a priority in our marriage. Three years after getting married, we have less than $16,000 left in student loan debt.

READ: Four questions to ask about maternity leave

The best tips for managing finances in a marriage are:

Agree on a plan together. We both knew that becoming debt free was what we wanted in order to eventually live a better lifestyle. We were both spending out of control and agreeing on a plan to reduce our debt together made us feel like we were working on the same team to win.

Talk about it. Paying off debt can easily increase stress levels. It’s important to be open and honest about how you’re both handling the paying off debt strategy.

Understand when you need a break. There were times where my husband and I would find ourselves in need of a serious break from finances. Paying off debt can easily become all-consuming and stressful. It was during these times that we would perhaps take $50 or $100 that would have gone toward debt and instead spent it on a well-deserved night out. By rewarding ourselves with each milestone, it made our debt repayment process much easier.

Erika Torres graduated from Wellesley College with dual degrees in English and Italian Studies — and $30,000 in debt. Since getting married in 2010, she and her husband continue to work at paying off debt and saving money, while still having fun and traveling. Erika is a member of the  Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, opinions and perspectives on personal finance.