Financial tips help newlyweds avoid credit potholes
Howard Dayton, Baptist Press
January 06, 2009

Financial tips help newlyweds avoid credit potholes

Financial tips help newlyweds avoid credit potholes
Howard Dayton, Baptist Press
January 06, 2009

Newly married couples should be able to accomplish more in harmony in every way than they ever could accomplish separately — and that certainly includes the way finances are handled. So, it’s important that both wife and husband understand that it’s not to be “my” money and “your” money; it needs to be seen as “our” money.

Although many people have credit card problems, the real problem is in the misuse of credit cards. Credit cards are not essential, but they can be a great convenience.

If newlyweds will agree, the following simple guidelines will help avoid difficulties.

  • Never use credit cards to buy anything that is not in your budget for the month. Obviously, that means you should have a budget.

  • Pay your credit cards off every month — no exceptions.

  • The first month you’re unable to pay the balances on your credit cards, destroy them.

Yes, it’s simplistic and it works. Commit yourselves to do this and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have credit card trouble.

There are several common problem areas to watch for in other money issues:

  • Don’t become extreme or legalistic with financial matters and don’t try to control the other spouse’s spending.

  • Maintain the discipline necessary to stay on your budget — the spending plan together.

  • Beware of the “more-money-in, more-money-out” syndrome. Don’t spend more simply because you have more, especially if the extra money is temporary income or income generated by the wife, because this kind of money: 1) could be needed if you and your spouse become pregnant, 2) might evaporate if you’re laid off, 3) could be lost through a job transfer, or 4) could be needed through a variety of other fill-in-the-blank circumstances.

  • Don’t include the wife’s income in your monthly budget. Instead, use that money for savings and one-time purchases such as a car or a down payment on a house.

  • Don’t think that “a little debt won’t hurt.”

  • Don’t use automatic overdrafts of your checking account. By design they become bank loans and can run into thousands of dollars before you realize it.

  • Avoid ATMs if possible. If you fail to log ATM withdrawals in your checkbook, you’ll end up writing bad checks. Also, it’s easy to develop the habit of using cash withdrawals to buffer your budget when you’ve overspent your original allocations.

  • Be absolutely committed to balance your checkbook monthly — to the penny.

  • Don’t become discouraged if your budget doesn’t work the first month you try it. Developing a realistic spending plan takes time.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Dayton is co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries.)

Financial health package

Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.