Consolidating Our Finances
Back when we got engaged I had ambitious plans of quickly moving to merge accounts and making some changes to optimize things a bit and squeeze a bit more savings out of her expenses. This enthusiasm was met with a brick wall as my fiancee had no interest in changing the way things were handled in her financial world and resisted nearly every suggestion I made.
However, over time, we began to make some small progress. This included:
- cut out some unneccessary fees on her telephone line,
- switched internet companies to cut costs,
- canceled her home security service,
- started regular Roth IRA contributions for her,
- created a MS Money file to track her income and expenses,
- and opened a joint high yield savings account.
Back in June, my fiancee left her job and became more receptive to changes and we have continued to take small steps. These included:
- cancelled her Cingular cell phone in favor of a low cost plan from Virgin Mobile
- I added her as a cardmember on my primary credit card and she has been reducing her usage of her other credit cards
- She began to enroll her monthly bills in auto bank draft to avoid late fees, save stamps, and avoid the constant grind of bill paying.
Finally now as we have gotten married we have taken some more steps to consolidate:
- We have reduced her car insurance policy to liability only from the works, just like my current automobile policy. Her car insurance bill has been cut in half.
- We have linked my primary checking account to several of her accounts to make it easier to move money and pay her bills.
- We suspended her home telephone service while we are away from home. This cut her telephone bill in half.
- We are in the process of opening a Vanguard AllAdvantage account that we may use as our primary joint checking account when we get back to the US.
- We merged MS Money files together to create a single balance sheet for us.
I still have a number of things I would like to focus on over the next several months including:
- Shopping around to consolidate home/auto/general liability insurance policies and cut premiums
- Centralize bank draft/bill pay from a joint account for the two of us
- Shift savings from lowering yielding account to high yield online savings accounts
- Close some of the accounts we are no longer going to use
- Get the two of us in a rhythm to review our finances together at least monthly
- Take a closer look at my wife's mortgage and retirement accounts to make sure we are maximing our returns.
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