Marriage and Money: Retirement and Credit Cards for Couples

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This week Couple Money has been featured on two sites with interviews about getting a retirement plan set up as a couple and whether the two of you should open joint credit cards as newlyweds.

I've included excepts below to give you an idea of what was covered.

Discussing Retirement Goals

When should couples sit down to discuss their retirement goals and strategy? How often do you think they should revisit this discussion?

The sooner, the better. If the two of you haven’t already, set aside time this week and have a money chat. You don’t have to do everything in one day.

Start off by talking about what each of you picture for retirement. You may be surprised at what comes out.

  • Where do you want to live (location and home – how big or small)?
  • What do you want to do in your “free time” (volunteer, start a second career)?
  • Do you plan on staying in one location or traveling around?

From there, figure out about how much you need to have and work backwards.

I think you should check in with one another about your progress at least every few months, even if it’s just to talk out dreams. Those conversations can be great motivation to stay the course and grow closer.

Co-sign on Loans

Mortgages and auto loans are more complicated than credit cards.

For one thing, they’re often for large amounts of money and are paid off over many years.

For another, one spouse with poor credit can derail the chances of getting the best interest rate, resulting in thousands more paid over the loan’s duration.

Just look at the estimated APRs for a 30-year fixed mortgage, based on FICO score range, to the right.

So should the spouse with good credit apply alone?

Martinez says no.

One person carrying entire credit load can lead to resentment, she says. Plus, one spouse’s low credit score should give the couple pause before they embark on huge credit commitments.

“Get both of your credit situations under control before you start talking about loans,” Martinez says. “If you have a partner who has a problem with keeping up with credit obligations, a loan is going to add more headaches. Just the process of going for a mortgage will require both people to be on top of things.”

Thoughts on Managing Finances as a Couple

Please check the posts out and let me know what you think.

How do the two of you handle retirement contributions? If you two use credit cards, how are they set up?

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

2 comments add your comment

  1. I like that you listed questions about dreams/goals as the first aspect of retirement planning. I think it’s very true that the first step isn’t directly related to money–it’s about what you want out of life. Once you know that, you can figure out how to make your finances work.

  2. I think too many people jump into ‘how’ and ‘how much’ and don’t consider the ‘why’ with retirement (and other financial decisions). Sometimes taking a step back together can show you two so much (and can reduce frustration and undue stress on yourselves).