That’s what’s engraved on the inside of our wedding bands.
Over the last 14 months 3 of my closest friends have tied the knot. Unlike Jeremy, most of my friends are single, or not married yet… until those last 14 months. On the way back from one of their bachelorette weekends away two of them were in the car with me. They sincerely asked, does anything change when you get married?
“Yes & No” was my response.
Below is my married-gal thoughts on what changes when you get married.
1. You both live in the house, make sure it looks like it.
I’ll never forget the look on Jeremy’s moms face when he told her we were moving in together (ahem, not engaged or married yet). We moved in. We didn’t tell my dad, but he gave me some explicit advice for our “home”….. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of- this is both of your homes, make sure you both make decisions about it. He had previously been married to women who made 99% of the decisions regarding their home (decor-wise). And while is mustard-colored pleather recliner was an eyesore, my mother knew it was his (and that it was going to live in the farthest corner of our den!). We make sure each of us approves all the furniture purchases, paint colors, and art 🙂
2. Figure out how to share your money
This kinda came naturally to us, and I know that is a blessing. When I bought our house (before we were engaged), I made sure everything was in my name. There was no reason to financially tie us together. If we ever parted ways, it would be a much easier split than if we both had our names on the deed and loan. I actually freaked out on Jeremy about 5 months prior when he wanted me to put him on my cell phone plan! ha! After moving in, we opened a joint checking account so that we could each put money in for the mortgage and bills, while maintaining our own private accounts. This evolved over time, and eventually it became too cumbersome to shuffle money back and forth, so we combined everything, except the photography accounts- those have always been separate.
3. Agree on where your money is going on a day-to-day basis
This is probably the biggest thing I told the girls that day in the car. Unless you have unlimited money, you each need to know what’s going where. Food tends to be our biggest enemy (and I’m sure many of you agree). It’s easy to drop $25 a few times a week at places like Panera or Salsaritas, but that adds up so fast. We used to have a $300 a month food budget, and it would quickly get blown by those places. It’s sickening to think that if we had Panera one night and pizza another, then that’s $50 a week, or $200 a month!
Along with this comes, who pays what? Even if it’s coming out of a joint account, who’s actually in charge of mailing the check or paying it online? A few occasions I came home to our power cut off because we both thought the other one paid the bill (…. or I forgot!) We have a pretty good system using Google Calendar, all our bills are listed a few days before they are due, and if they are for Jeremy (his credit cards, student loans) he pays them, and I pay mine.
The Google Calendar helps me keep up with what bills come out of what money…. ie: Jeremy gets paid every 2 weeks, while I am paid monthly- so by looking ahead to the 2 weeks between Jeremy’s checks we can see where the money is going.
4. Agree on your financial goals & what it will take to get there
We talk long-term dreams and we talk short term victories. Before the beach house was built, we would spend what free weekends we had sitting by the pool, talking about the money coming in and where it was going. We were able to watch our savings grow and start on the beach house sooner than expected.
Sometimes these dreams sound crazy, but that’s OK. The summer after Jeremy was laid off (2010), we were at the beach and thought, wouldn’t it be great if we owned a home here? We started researching, and realized it wasn’t so crazy and we could do it!
You’ll get into a grove with who washes the dishes, cuts the grass and does the laundry- but money can cause lots of stress. Just because you live together first doesn’t mean you’re truly invested, everything must become a “we thing”.