Getting Married? How to Keep Your Financial Independence

Ah, the wedding season. If you’re a lucky bride-to-be, you’re consumed right now with decisions about seating arrangements and centerpieces, tulips versus daisies, and indigo or sapphire cummerbunds.

Even though you’re busy making wedding day plans, now is the best time to educate yourself on financial independence. Joining together in holy matrimony as a singular unit is a beautiful thing, but couples still need to be careful not to lose their individual financial identity.

This advice isn’t just for brides-to-be, newlyweds, or only women for that matter. Men and women, recently married or not, should establish and build their own credit and monitor their own personal finances, even if finances are shared.

Financial independence isn’t just about bringing in your own income. Many American families rely on a sole-earner’s income. It’s about maintaining credit in your own name. To start, you need to understand your credit profile and information. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Take a survey of your finances by first checking your credit reports. Check for errors. Learn what goes into a credit report and score, and what to do if you do find mistakes.
  • Make a list of the total debts you owe to get a picture of your overall debt.  If you haven’t yet taken out a line of credit, you could start by opening a secured credit card. You can slowly start to build your credit by using your new cards responsibly. 
  • Create a budget. Make sure you know what you can afford to spend so you do not charge more than you can pay off. 
  • Use cards wisely. Regularly using credit cards (even just a little each month) and paying them off in-full and on-time is an excellent way to maintain credit. 
  • Monitor your credit. Make sure credit cards are not being opened up in your name for which you did not apply. If you weren’t checking your credit reports and scores, this could easily go unnoticed for months and your credit could get badly damaged in no time.
How you handle your family finances is up to you and your spouse or partner. There is no one right way to manage your money, but you should stay on top of your spend and credit history so that you can maintain a solid credit background.