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Before getting married, the two of you need to take financial planning classes together. These classes provide valuable information and ways to get out of debt, save money for a home or other big expense, as well as ways to plan for retirement. You will each have your own set of bills going into the marriage. Make a decision as to how this will be handled before saying, "I Do." You can choose to divide the bills up as his/hers and each pay the respective debt, or just put all the bills together, determine the debts with the highest interest rate, and tackle those first.

Starting from the first day put your financial planning to work. The solution is not important as long as the two of you agree on the process. Managing finances is not a very exciting aspect of marriage although it is certainly one of the most important. Marriage and money can be like oil and water and is the number one cause of divorce.

Although difficult at first, especially when just starting out, put between 15% and 20% of your income aside. In fact, act as though this money is not even a part of your income so you will be living on 80% to 85% of the income. When households are combined, your expenses will automatically be reduced. Instead of two housing payments, there will be one. Instead of paying utilities twice, you will only be paying once. That money saved should be enough to be your 15% to 20% savings. You want your savings to build up cash reserves that can be put in a mutual fund or 491-K account.

Sometimes married couples have a difficult time relinquishing their checkbook. Having that independency and even secrecy can be hard to change. However, you are a married couple now and instead of having two checkbooks and doubling the work, set up a joint account for savings and for checking. Keeping two checking accounts can quickly cause trouble since you will not have good handle on the money coming in and going out. You also need to put your spouse on as your beneficiary. This would include bank accounts, insurance policies, 401-K accounts, retirement plans, insurance plans, and any other account dealing with money.

Work together on budgeting and tracking expenditures. Whichever person has responsibility for handling the finances needs to have 100% support from the other spouse. You and your spouse need to set up the guidelines and agree to follow them. Just imagine if the two of you had decided that nothing would be purchased unless talked about first. Now your spouse is in a store, sees something he or she needs, thinks the $20 price is a steal, and therefore buys it. Then you are somewhere, you see something that is a bargain, and think the $25 price will never be matched. First, you have both broken a promise you made about a very serious subject. Second, now there is $45 spent that was not accounted for in the current month's bills. With the weather being so hot, you have both been watering the grass more than usual. Now the water bill comes in the mail and it is $40 higher than expected. Now you have $95 extra to cover. Can you see how easy it would be to get in trouble? Once you agree to the plans, for the sake of your marriage, honor those agreements just as you do your wedding vows.

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