4 Financial Mistakes Newlyweds Make

by Stacy Tharp 6. November 2013

Marriage Finances

One of the biggest decisions newlyweds have to make is how to go about combining their bank accounts. This decision requires a lot of discussion around personal money habits and short- and long-term financial goals. Depending on the couple, this conversation may be short and sweet or it may be excruciatingly long and painful.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this money discussion will not be your last. No, not even close. It is important that you regroup on a regular basis to discuss your budget, the progress of your goals and any circumstances that may divert your current financial path.

To give you a head start on your wonderful journey of navigating the world of finances as a newly married couple, here are some of the top financial mistakes that newlyweds make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Have one person take control of the finances.

 Why it's bad: Couples often divvy up household chores, so in theory, it makes sense to give one person the “chore” of paying the bills. However, this can leave the other person completely out of the loop when it comes to financial decisions that affect both people. Plus, if something were to happen to the person who is in charge of the finances, the other person must be ready and able to take over the financial responsibilities.

What you should do: It’s fine to give one person the responsibility of making sure the bills get paid – but both of you should be aware of bill due dates and account information. It’s also important to make sure that both of you are on the same page when it comes to your budget.

Mistake #2: Only have the “money talk” once.

Why it's bad: While it is essential to have that initial talk to establish your goals and budget, the difficult part is actually staying on track. It’s likely that the initial budget you create will not work as well in practice as it does on paper. It’s okay if your first budget ends up being impossible to follow. What’s not okay is doing nothing about it.

What you should do: Set up regular meetings with your spouse to discuss your finances. Since this isn’t exactly the most exciting topic to discuss, you can liven things up by doing it over a nice Sunday brunch, or any other activity you enjoy. I’d suggest setting up these dates at least once a month, at the beginning of the month, to discuss how well you were able to stick to last month’s budget, and to discuss any tweaks that should be made to this month’s budget. You should also discuss any large purchases that you plan on making that month. You may want to consider meeting again in the middle of the month to discuss your monthly progress.

Mistake #3: Refuse to compromise.

Why it’s bad: One of you is the spender, and the other is the saver. It’s good to have this balance, but one of you is likely to be more stubborn than the other. If one person is so stubborn that the other feels that they have no choice but to always give in, only one person wins.

What you should do: Both the spender and the saver should recognize that having this balance is a good thing, but that for most major financial decisions, you are going to have to meet somewhere in the middle. It can take some time, but you have to accept the fact that the financial habits which you have always lived by are going to have to change – and your spouse needs to accept that too.

Mistake #4: Fail to plan for worst case scenarios.

Why it’s bad: We never think something bad is going to happen, so it’s easy to tell yourself that putting money into an emergency fund can be put to better use somewhere else. But the fact is, unfortunate things are going to happen at some point or another, and if you aren’t financially prepared, your bad news just got much worse.

What you should do: Pay your “savings bill” first. If you have a large credit card bill one month, you should adjust your spending the next month, not your savings. It is a dangerous practice to pay for your overspending habits with your savings – doing so encourages you to continue to spend more than you had budgeted.

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How to Change Banks in 5 Simple Steps

by Stacy Tharp 2. August 2013

Shop for New Bank"I hate my bank!” It seems like you’ve uttered these words a million times, yet you keep going back for more. But why? Changing banks is simpler than you might think. Plus when you take into consideration all of the headache and hassle you’ll free yourself of, these simple steps it takes to change banks will seem even simpler.

1) Figure Out Why You Are Not Satisfied with Your Bank

This might seem like an easy question to answer, as you may have been complaining about the reasons you do not like your bank for a while. But make sure you are certain of specifically what it is that you are not satisfied with so you don’t make the same mistake again. Break down the problem to the source. Are you being charged too many fees? Is that because your bank doesn’t offer an account that meets your needs? Are you getting too many ATM fees because of limited ATM locations? Or, are you unable to get the help you need when you have questions about fees or other issues?

2) Find a Bank That Fits Your Needs and Open Your Account

So you’ve identified the problem, now it’s time to find a solution. Do your research and open an account at a bank that fits your needs. In today’s world, most of your research and even the account opening can be done from the comfort of your own home. Simple, I tell you! As much as it may hurt, you do not want to close your old bank account(s) quite yet…just try to hold on a little longer!

3) Switch Your Direct Deposit

If you do not use direct deposit, you can skip this step. If you do, go ahead and get your paychecks deposited into your exciting new account. You should be able to fill out a simple form at work to do this.

4) Switch Automatic Bill Payments

Once you have your direct deposit set up, it’s time to switch all automatic transfers and payments you have set up. Take a look at your transactions over the last month to make sure you don’t miss any regular monthly payments. Then try to think about any other automatic payments you make either quarterly, annually, or sporadically.

5) It's Time! Close Your Original Account

Make sure all checks and payments from your old account have cleared and you should be good to go. You’ll want to make sure you don’t leave your old account open to avoid any inactivity or low balance fees. Don’t let your old bank collect any more from you. Once you close your old account, you will have successfully completed the simple steps to change banks!

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Refreshingly Easy No-Heat Summer Recipes

by Stacy Tharp 25. July 2013

Puppy Cooling Off

Summertime in Baltimore brings us many benefits, such as free outdoor events, longer daylight hours and an easy source of vitamin D. Of course we all know that with the benefits come some drawbacks – perpetual humidity, crazy energy bills, and the aversion to ever turning on your stove or oven to cook because it’s hot enough as it is!

Well, I’m sorry to say I can’t do anything about our lovely Maryland humidity – but I DO have a solution for your energy bill and stove/oven anxiety…no-heat summer recipes!

No heat = No oven.

No oven = No need to crank the AC all the way down.

Okay, enough with the mathematical equations. Here are some great no-heat summer recipes:

1) Drink Up

There's nothing more refreshing than a cold summer smoothie. This Strawberry Lime Smoothie is quick, easy and healthy. You likely have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator or cabinet already, and one of the great things about smoothies is you can enjoy them any time of the day.

Want to kick things up a notch with a refreshing spiked beverage? Stop by your favorite Baltimore bar for an orange crush…or better yet, make your own!

2) Go Green

Grab your favorite leafy veg, your mix-ins of choice, and what do you know – you’ve got yourself a salad. Much like smoothies, salads can be easily modified to meet your taste buds’ desires. This Tri-Berry Spinach Salad caught my attention with such summery ingredients. Add in some cold pre-cooked roasted chicken from the store and you’ve got yourself a substantial meal.

3) Summer Soup

If that sounds to you like some sort of oxymoron, you must be forgetting about chilled soups. The great thing about having chilled soup in the summer is it has that “comfort food” feel, but without the heat. A couple options to choose from: Chilled Cucumber Soup and Cantaloupe Soup.

4) Sammies

Can you ever really go wrong with a sandwich? They are easily customizable (are we seeing a common theme here?) and portable, which makes them an ideal choice when you’re on the go. Of course, they’re great for eating at home as well. You probably already have your favorite go-to sandwich, but if you’re looking to change things up a bit, try this Ham, Brie, and Apple Triple Decker Sandwich.

5) Let's Wrap It Up

Wraps – very similar to sandwiches, but for some reason, a whole lot more fun! Pretty much any combo you use to make a sandwich can easily be turned into a wrap. If you’re looking for something more unique, ditch the tortilla and play around with different types of wrappers. For example, try these Avocado Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps.

6) The Good Stuff

If you’re anything like me, you skipped right on down to this section. When you think of homemade desserts, you may think of warm brownies or the smell that fills your whole house when you are baking cookies, but you can create something just as delicious without the oven. Try these Peach and Raspberry Pavlova Parfaits or this Peanut Butter Pie to get a fresh sweet treat without breaking a sweat or your AC unit.

For even more energy saving summer recipes, follow our No-Bake Summer Recipes board on Pinterest.

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