Financial Tips For Starting Your Marriage - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Financial Tips For Starting Your Marriage

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ALEXANDRIA, La. - June marks the start of the wedding season, a time of celebrations and new

But before you stand at the altar, it is also important to know where you stand financially as a couple. You aren't just joining together your hopes and dreams, but also combining your money habits, spending patterns and even past debt.

As both the average marriage age and student debt loads rise, it is likely at least one partner will enter the marriage with significant debt. The average student loan debt is now more than $25,000, and the average credit card debt is almost $5,000 per borrower. These debts can cause significant stress on a new marriage. Revealing all debts early can ease the stress, and help the new couple start paying it down as soon as possible.

Getting married does not automatically make you responsible for debts incurred by your spouse before the marriage. Your partner's debt will only show up on your credit history once you are added to the accounts. However, the debt will still affect you when it comes to your household's income since there will be a lot less money to save, pay other bills or spend in
ways that are much more enjoyable than debt payments.

Here are some financial tips for newlyweds:

* Compare spending habits. Don't assume your spouse shares your beliefs
about money--the spending and saving habits may surprise you. Watch how
they use money. A free spender before marriage will probably be a free
spender after marriage.

* Before the wedding, reveal everything in your financial closet. Be honest
about your income, debts, and money problems. Bring out your bank statements
from the past twelve months to show what you did with your money. Discuss
your strengths and weaknesses with money.

* Each of you should get a copy of your credit reports from the three credit
bureaus. This will give you a clear picture of credit accounts, debts, and
how creditors will judge you. Aim to get your scores over 750 to receive
the lowest interest rates for your first mortgage and other loans.

* If your partner has been married before, find out about their financial
obligations to the ex-spouse and children.

* Have a wedding and honeymoon you can pay off in a year. The wedding
of your dreams can become a nightmare if you are still paying interest on it
years later.

* Avoid credit card debt. The best rule of thumb is simply, "if you can't
pay for something with cash, you can't afford it."

* If you have a credit card balance, pay as much as you can above the
minimum each month. If you receive gift money, a bonus, a second job or a
tax refund, use this to pay off your debt. You can even make micropayments
multiple times during the month to pay off your balance faster. Eat a meal
at home and immediately apply the money you saved to your credit card

* Before the first bills come in, decide who will pay them and when this
will take place. If you have separate accounts, know which account pays
each bill. Also notify creditors of your name change and new address.

* Reduce your debt-to-available credit ratio. This will help improve your
credit score. Your monthly debt, including your mortgage, should not
exceed 35% of your gross income.

* Each spouse should have a credit card in his or her own name to build
an individual credit score. Keep that card for a long time. Use the card for
several purchases each month and pay the bill in full immediately. Building
a long term payment history with one or two credit cards is an important
factor in your credit score.

Here are some credit cards that are good choices for newlyweds:

Slate from Chase has 0% intro rate on purchases and balance transfers
for 15 months. There is no balance transfer fee if you transfer a balance
within the first 30 days of your account opening. There is no annual fee
and the rate is 11.99-21.99%

Citi Thank You Preferred Card give you 15,000 points after you spend
$1,000 within your first three months, enough for $150 in gift cards. Earn
five ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on all purchases at gas stations,
supermarkets and drugstores during the first 12 months and one point for
every $1 spent thereafter. The APR is 12.99%-22.99%.

Capital One Venture Rewards gives miles that can be redeemed for
travel, hotels or gift cards. It offers a generous two miles per $1 on
every purchase. The $59 annual fee is waived the first year. The APR
is 13.9%-20.9%.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card gives you 3% back on
supermarket purchases, 2% back on gas purchases and 1% on everything
else. If you charge $1000 on your card in the first three months, you will
receive $100 back. There is no annual fee. Pay off the balance in full each
month since the APR is high (17.24%-22.24%).

For more information, visit

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