The following is a post written by me for Bettement’s Blogging for a Better New Year Carnival.
This past year, my husband and I had one focus: save as much money as possible so we could survive four months on one income while my husband was in the firefighter academy (with no pay).
We took every measure possible—we downsized from a one-bedroom apartment to a shack, err, I mean a guesthouse. We limited our spending, we started couponing and we slashed our dining out budget. And the good thing is: we survived.
My husband graduated from the firefighter academy on December 10th and immediately started working two days later.
Now, with us fully knowing we’ll have two paychecks throughout 2012, what should our new financial goals be? We took the time to review these for ourselves and believe they will serve as an excellent guide for any new couples approaching a new year of finances:
Switch to a credit union
Out of sheer laziness, we’ve stayed with a big bank. We have an account with a credit union that we’ve just never used. We need to get in gear, and finally order debit cards and switch all our online banking.
Credit unions offer more flexibility and better rates. Plus, you’re helping out the little guy.
Focus on Retirement
With one income—retirement wasn’t exactly on our radar. For the first time since I started working a full-time job when I was 22, I ceased my retirement contributions to my 401K. Now that I have been employed for a year at my new job, my employer will match my contributions up to 3%. I just signed up for the full match, and highly recommend that in your own retirement planning you always max out your 401K contributions. It is an optimal way to automate investing in your future.
Open a Roth IRA
We both plan to open Roth IRAs. While we may not be able to max out our Roth IRAs in the first year, I’ll be happy with contributing a nice chunk. The main takeaway here is that every bit counts as you start your financial life together.
My husband and I will both receive pensions from our employer, so our personal retirement accounts will be supplementary income (not our sole source). However, we know it is important for us and all newlyweds to create a safe and secure nest egg for our future together.
Go on a honeymoon
Writing on personal finance, our focus can often laser in on gathering wealth and saving without any consideration toward the fun, but essential, monetary goals in life. Eric and I will be married for two years in April and we have yet to go on a honeymoon. Our goal in 2012 is to finally take that dream trip to Costa Rica. We didn’t have a big wedding—I think we deserve a great trip. And this is definitely a goal toward which we plan to save and invest in the coming year.
Save for a down payment
In addition to retirement and honeymoon savings, we’re thinking ahead and hoping to buy a house within five years. We can’t buy until we know where my husband will be working permanently (his current job is temporary), but when we find out, we want to be financially prepared.
What goals do you recommend for semi-newlyweds still starting out on their financial journey?
This was a guest post submitted for the Betterment New Year’s Resolution Blogger Carnival at the Betterment blog.