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Now that the anticipation, planning, excitement, and joy of your big day and the honeymoon are behind you, now what? As you settle into your new life together there will be issues to resolve regarding money and finances.
Yours, mine and ours often sums up the new financial dynamic for most couples. There are a number of changes that will be occurring in your finances. This is a major transition for most people. This series is presented as a guideline of practical tips to hopefully help you reduce a major cause of stress for most couples – money!
Hopefully this guide will lead to open, honest communication and agreement on your new financial strategy. Your philosophy or strategy on money, debt, goals and objectives and finances in general is a key area of your new life. Your individual beliefs as well as your “couple” beliefs are important to understand and integrate into your strategy. Keep in mind that you may have different individual beliefs on a lot of these topics. Neither is right or wrong but you should be aware of each other’s beliefs.

Starting Point

A good starting point is to define your philosophy on money. What are your goals and objectives, individually and as a couple? Are they different? How do you view money? How important is it to you? How will you resolve your differences? There are many areas to consider as you develop your philosophy; for example lifestyle, debt, savings, instant or deferred gratification, purchases, financial priorities, goals and objectives.

Create Your Plan

Now that you have defined your philosophy, it is time to move onto some of the nitty-gritty. To create your plan, start with the basics. Cash flow, income and expense reconciliation, balance sheet, written goals and objectives, priority listing of goals and objectives with timeframes, establish a regular review cycle of your finances, monthly for example.
The first step is to have an accounting of your income and expenses. Often this is called a budget; I prefer to call it cash flow management, as budget is somewhat negative. Expenses can be divided a number of ways, here are some examples; fixed vs. variable, necessities and luxuries. There may be some overlap in these categories.
How will you allocate your income? How will you pay bills? When? How will you handle discretionary income/spending? At what level do you both need to agree on the purchase? How will you allocate income between bills, savings, purchases and your other goals and priorities?

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