First, remember to blend your finances slowly. "A lot of couples are simply uncomfortable with the idea of blending their finances," says AuWerter. "This is particularly the case when you're getting married later in life - you're used to handling your own money." One solution is to create three accounts: "his", "hers" and "ours". The "ours" account covers household expenses like your mortgage and the electric bill. The "hers" and "his" accounts are used for discretionary expenses like manicures or a round of golf. This gives couples freedom to buy what they'd like without arguing about spending choices.
Now is also the time to set a budget, and stick to it. "You want to really track your spending," says AuWerter. "Keep a money journal." Write down everything you purchase for 2-3 months. At the end of that time period, sit down with your spouse and examine where your money went, and why. "You are going to be surprised to see where the money is going," says AuWerter. This will help you and your spouse find areas where you can trim your budget, and where you may need a little extra padding from month to month. Don't forget to budget in some savings too!
If you're thinking of starting a family right away, it's time to think about life insurance and disability insurance. Life insurance will give your spouse some money to live on in the event of your death. Disability insurance will cover you if you - or your spouse - is injured and can't work. Many times, employers include short term disability insurance and life insurance in their benefits package, but it may only cover a portion of your salary. If you're already struggling and absolutely have to have two paychecks coming in to make ends meet, you're going to need extra coverage. "Crunch the numbers, and you may find that you'll want to take out a supplemental policy," says AuWerter.
In addition to getting your insurance information together, you'll also need to update other important papers like your 401k or your investment paperwork. "You probably want to change the beneficiary," says AuWerter. Or, you may need to update your contact information if you and your spouse have moved or your name has changed since you were married. Regardless, go through these important forms to be sure all the information listed is current.
Making a will is another important step. In case of your death, a will appoints someone to handle your estate. If you're not comfortable making up a detailed will at this point, just have a basic one drawn up. It will save a lot of hassle later on.
Finally, communicate! Money is never an easy topic to discuss, but talking about your finances with your new spouse can keep arguments from cropping up later on. AuWerter suggests scheduling regular money meetings to discuss your finances so that you and your spouse are on the same page.
For more information on managing your finances as a newlywed, or for additional personal financial advice, click here to visit SmartMoney.com
By Erin Petrun