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Combining Finances

One of our January Monthly Goals was to set up a working budget. We didn't quite get this task complete because we discovered that combining your finances when you first get married can be tricky. You each have your own spending habits, your own separate bills, your own debt and now that you've said "I do" it suddenly becomes "our" habits, "our" bills, and "our" debt. 
Combining Finances After Marriage | Meet the B's
Here's a little background on our money habits... 

Me? I'm a saver at heart. I can't help it. I hate the idea of being indebted to anyone! I also grew up in a family that didn't have a whole lot of money so I learned financial responsibility at a young age. I knew I wouldn't have help paying for college so I applied for as many scholarships as possible and got my first year covered. Awesome! After that year though, I was on my own. So I worked three jobs for most of college and paid for school as I went. Looking back, I have no CLUE how I survived working roughly 40 hours a week in addition to a full class load plus nursing clinicals!!! But ya'll, I graduated DEBT FREE! In addition to paying for school without loans, my senior year of college I bought a car. I had to take out a loan for that because I just didn't have thousands of dollars saved up because of my education budget. But I did pay that car off in less than one year. I refused to let that debt linger, so it was done and paid for shortly after I graduated. Fast forward a few more years... Next big spending... the wedding. We knew we weren't going to have much help on that either so we made lots of changes in our socializing and eating out habits so that we could save, save, save for the wedding of our dreams. And you know what? We did it. We paid for everything as we went, and once the big day was over, there was only $1000 on my credit card which we quickly paid off. So as you can see, I'm a saver. I don't like debt. I'm all for paying cash if you can. And if you must have debt, pay for it as quickly as you can afford to!

Now Pete's finances are a little different. I wouldn't call him a big spender by any means. He's definitely all about getting a good deal. But he does spend a little more than I do (on electronics... cough cough cough). And he does have student loan debt. He has more credit cards than I do (I only have one), but he does typically pay them off every month. Combining finances means that those couple of small debts become "our" debts. That was tough for me to grasp at first since I was debt free, but now I realized it's just another thing I can try to quickly tackle and pay off! I am up for the challenge!

So if we didn't make a budget this month, what did we accomplish? We did move all of our accounts to one bank and give each other account access. We decided for now it's okay for us each to have our own checking accounts until we get a good handle on what we are spending. We each also have our own savings account and we have one joint savings account that we opened when we were saving for the wedding. We plan to eventually have all of our accounts as "joint" accounts but not until we have a real budget that we are actually sticking to. 

After looking over many resources on budgeting and on newlywed finances we decided what we need first is to figure out where we are even spending our money. It's hard to divvy out spending amounts to different categories when you don't know what you're actually spending on a monthly basis. I might know what I spend in each category, but having not had access to each other's accounts before, we don't really know specific numbers for each other's spending habits. 

How were we going too figure all of this out? We joined Mint.com and loaded all of our accounts into. All of them. Our checking, savings, credit cards, retirement, mortgage, student loans, and car loan (did I mention we bought a new car recently!?!? Had to... Pete's was on it's last legs.. or tires I guess, lol). Mint syncs with all of your accounts to give you up to date numbers all in one place. It was very interesting to see our net worth laid out in front of us. Mint also categorizes your spending and puts it in nice little pie charts for you. This allows you to visualize how much your spending on groceries vs restaurants for example. It can be very eye opening!

We plan to track our joint spending using Mint for a couple months so that we get some accurate monthly estimates before creating an actual budget. Mint has a budgeting tool that we will probably try out, but I'm a paper kind of girl, so I will probably find some sort of pretty chart to print out and have right there in front of me too. Mint also has some handy little goal trackers you can use to keep track of paying off debts or for savings toward a specific goal. So we will set up goals for paying off the car, paying off the house, and saving for renovations and vacations. 

I'll get back to you on budgeting once we finalize a budget in a couple of months. For now, here are some of the resources I found while we were contemplating our budget. There's some general budget information, some handy printables, and some info on combining finances for newlyweds. Enjoy!

Budgeting When You Have Inconsistent Paychecks (perfect for nurses (me!), hourly workers, and online income)
Income & Debt Tracking (She has some great printables too!)
Making a Budget Binder
Stay On Budget
Organizing Finances
Budgeting The Dave Ramsey Way
Creating Your First Family Budget
Steps to Manage Your Combined Finances
Combining Finances (This girl is debt free! Check out some of her other great tips!)

Hope this was helpful! What helped you when combining finances with your significant other? Please share! :)
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