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Life Stages: Financial Planning for Newlyweds & Military Marriage

Happy bride and groom Marriage is a major, exciting milestone for any couple, but even the most wonderful life changes bring stress. Studies have found that couples argue more about marriage and finances than any other topic, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The key to managing your money well is the same as the key to a good marriage: communication. When it comes to money, it’s important to be open with each other from the get-go, preferably before you say “I do.” Before you marry, talk about your individual financial habits and philosophies. Do you have debt and, if so, how much? What’s your credit score? Are you a saver or a spender?

Once you get that information out in the open, it’s time to look at the important life stages planning marriage requires. When it comes to financial planning in marriage, military couples face some unique opportunities and struggles.

Financial Planning for Newlyweds in the Military

1. Dream Together

Effective financial planning for newlyweds requires creating a financial dream, then figuring out how to get there. This can be a fun opportunity for you and your partner to discuss your future together. Do you want to own a home? Have children? Go back to school? Start a business? Go on vacation? All of these dreams can be achieved if you work together to create a financial plan on how to save, invest and spend wisely.

2. Discuss Joint Bank Accounts

An important aspect of financial planning for newlyweds is determining whether to open a joint bank account, keep individual accounts separate, or do some combination of both. Joining accounts often makes things easier, especially in the case of deployment where the servicemember’s spouse will need to be able to make important financial decisions. A joint account also makes it easier to manage shared expenses, like a mortgage, utilities, groceries and other bills. However, keeping separate accounts can be a good way to let each other make individual decisions about spending money for personal wants. The key is to maintain a budget for how much of this discretionary money each partner gets to prevent overspending while still allowing some financial freedom.  Finally, don’t forget about a savings account. Include how much you want to put away each month, as well as whether to put part of all of military bonuses into savings.

3. Create a Shared Budget

Before you get married, it’s smart to evaluate both the assets and liabilities that each partner brings to the household. Look at how much each person earns and spends. What expenses can be combined, like phone or internet services? Which can be eliminated? What is your combined monthly income and debt, and where does the money need to go? If you have debt, like credit cards or student loans, how much is owed and how quickly can it be paid off? How much can you afford to save each month for an emergency fund? Work through these numbers together to get a complete picture of your joint financial health.

4. Choose Your Home

As a member of the military, you don’t necessarily have the freedom to choose the location you live, but you can decide on the type of housing that’s best for your family, whether it’s base housing, a rental property or a house of your own. When you get married, you may qualify for a one-time BHA (Basic Housing Allowance) increase. If you and your spouse are stationed in an area where you receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), both you and your spouse will receive that, as well as any children you may have.

When you’re ready to buy a home of your own, talk to each other about what you want and need out of the home, how much you want to spend and getting pre-approved for a home loan. A VA mortgage can help you save on your down payment as well as offer additional benefits.

5. Plan Your Retirement

As you talk to one another about your vision for the future, don’t forget to include where you hope to be when it’s finally time to retire. Start planning for that day early by investing in your retirement through the military’s Thrift Savings Plan, so you’ll be financially secure enough to enjoy your later years rather than worry about money through that time of life.

6. Protect Your Spouse and Children

While mortality can be a sensitive topic, it is an important one to start talking about, especially for military couples. What will happen to your spouse and children should you pass away? Will they be able to continue on financially? It’s never too early to invest in life insurance for both you and your military spouse. If you already carry life insurance, you’ll need to update your beneficiaries and possibly consider adding additional insurance to make sure your spouse will be well taken care of if something were to happen to you.

Navigate Marriage and Finances with AAFMAA

From buying a home to having children to retirement, marriage is a wonderful journey that will change the way you look at and handle your finances. AAFMAA provides expert financial solutions and advice to ensure military newlyweds navigate their future finances with ease. Contact our Membership Coordinators at 866-533-0521 today to learn how AAFMAA can help you and your spouse maneuver the many happy years to come.