My little sister just announced her engagement last week. I’m excited for her, really. However, I’m also a little concerned for her too. I’m her big sister, it’s my job to worry.  I’m not a typical worrier, most of the time I easily let things roll off my back. Yet, in this case I have some very specific reasons that have led me to my worried state:

  1. She’s turning 29 this year and still lives at home.
  2. She’s not employed.
  3. Her fiancee lives with his parents and he’s my age (late 30’s).
  4. He doesn’t have a steady paycheck either.

If there were one less reason to worry, then I’d be content knowing they’ll be fine and figure it all out by their impending wedding sometime next year. However this announcement, and my knowing of their circumstances, led me to the idea of a potential gift  for newlyweds: The Newlywed Financial Bliss Box.

Newlywed Financial Bliss Box designed by Little House
Newlywed Financial Bliss Box designed by Little House


The Newlywed Financial Bliss Box would open the door to discussing finances early on in a relationship, potentially before the wedding date, avoiding any huge blowout before, during, or after the wedding. It would be a simple way to ease into sharing financial responsibility and discussing shared financial goals. The contents of the box would be simple so a couple wouldn’t feel overwhelmed and discard the box altogether. The contents would include:

  • A check list of what needs to be discussed such as; total combined income, total combined debt (student loans, credit cards, auto loans, etc.), credit scores, financial goals (long term and short term), whether to keep bank accounts separate or combine them into a joint account, who will be the person responsible for paying the bills and balancing the account(s), and financial ideals (are they spenders or savers.)
  • Budget worksheet: A simple, laminated monthly budget worksheet with basic categories and expenses listed that they could fill out to help determine what their monthly expenses will be. Obviously, some newlyweds will already know each other’s monthly expenses if they live together. However, this could help everyone save money in the long run.
  • Debt worksheet: Another laminated worksheet with basic types of debt, this would encourage them to discuss total combined debt and come up with a plan to pay it off.
  • Short term / Long term goal worksheet: Two simple columns labeled long term savings goals and short term savings goals with general categories can be filled in and added to with the intention of setting priorities.  General categories under short term savings could include wedding costs such as attire, ceremony fees including the marriage license, reception costs, invitations, decorations, gifts, etc. to get the ball rolling.
  • Spender/Saver quiz: Not wanting to make the box a total bore, a fun little quiz could be included to help them determine if they are spenders or savers. Questions such as, “You are window shopping with a friend when all of a diamond-studded watch catches your eye. You know the price is slightly above what you’re willing to pay, but your credit card just offered you a 6-month zero percent interest rate that’s very enticing. You can:  A. ) Say the heck with it and swipe that plastic card. B. ) Go home and price check that watch against online deals to see if you can get it for less. C.)  Wait until the watch goes on sale. D.) Forget about the watch, you don’t need it.” Based on which answer they choose for each of the 10 questions, the end of the quiz determines where they fall in the spender/saver spectrum.
  • Resource list: A list of resources for checking their credit reports, calculating their debt repayment, online banks with higher savings percentages, and credit bureau addresses to help them research additional information on their own.
  • Calculator: As a simple way to help calculate their monthly budget, debt, and savings goals worksheets.
  • Engraved pen with their monogram: A personal touch would be a nice addition.

Will I be giving this to my little sis as an engagement gift? I’m not sure. The idea is great, but not everyone would appreciate such a gift. My husband thinks it would be a lost cause to create one with my sister in mind.  What do you think?

26 Comments

  1. This would scare me to death! How are they going to make ends meet without steady income? I mean… does one of them plan to work steadily? Yikes! I think your financial bliss box is one of those things where you can say “At least I tried to warn you!” you know? And, they might actually use it, and like it!

    • @Mrs. Accountability – Yes, their situation is quite scary. I think they are still in the initial phase of romance and think everything will turn out rosy. They must also be thinking that with the wedding a little more than a year away, that gives them time to get their acts together. Perhaps the Bliss Box would help them. thanks for the comment, I might have to create this gift.

  2. Wow, scary situation! Did you tell them they should wait like eons when they get a job, live in their own place, etc, etc, etc… Oy ye vay.

    I think your box is an AWESOME idea. Perhaps, not thee gift for the normal population. But just think, if every wanna be married couple received that gift…it’d be making a hell of a better life for many people. Simply Awesome!
    .-= Money Funk´s last blog ..Keeping your Pet Safe with Spot-on Flea -amp Tick Control =-.

    • @Money Funk – Love the new Gravatar of you! I agree that the timing of their impending nuptials is really bad. I’m not quite sure how they plan to be employed, self-sufficient, and living together (but independent of their parents) in a year or so. I guess they think it will all magically fall into place. Thanks for the comment on my box. Some people would appreciate it, I’m just not sure my sister would get it.

  3. Paul@Quantisan Reply

    Lack of income on its own isn’t a deal breaker. It’s their spending habits that would make or break their finance.

    The cube idea is both cute and useful. But it’s so quirky that some people may not get it and may even be offended. Tacking on a couple of spa coupons may loosen them up perhaps? 🙂

    • @Paul – I like the spa coupon idea. That would definintely make the box a little more amiable and not so offensive. Thanks for the tip!

  4. I don’t think they will use it, unless you push them into it. They both don’t have steady jobs, so I don’t think they will want to focus on finances.

    It’s a good idea, but I don’t think they’ll play 🙁

    • @Money Reasons – You are repeating what my husband bascially said. He pretty much would agree with you, I shouldn’t waste my time creating this gift for my sister since personal finance is probably the last thing on her mind. Thanks for adding your two-cents. 😉

  5. The Saved Quarter Reply

    Love it! I wish I had sat down and had this discussion with my husband before we were married. It came as a total shock, even after living together for 4 years, that he had so much debt. We had always kept separate finances and our conversations were too superficial to be meaningful.

    I would suggest adding a book like “Smart Couples Finish Rich”, something geared toward couples.

    • @The Saved Quarter – That’s a great idea! I’ll have to check out Smart Couples Finish Rich, it sounds like a terrific book for any couple. thanks for the comment!

  6. MoneyGreenLife Reply

    This is a great idea. I will try to make some good use out of your suggestions.

    • @Money Green Life – That was my intention. If people could actually use the box, then it would be a great gift! 🙂

  7. @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – You might be right. However, my sister is trying to talk my dad into letting her and her fiancee live in another apartment that he owns. He currently doesn’t have anyone living there, with the thought that some day they’d sell it and use that as their retirement (my dad will be 70 next year and might need that income sooner than later!). So, maybe they’d get the space back in the apartment they currently live in, but they might be losing their retirement income! Crazy, right?!

  8. So whose parents house are they going to live in? 🙂

    Getting married ONE MONTH (ahhh!) I think it’s a great idea! This switch will totally change everything I thought I knew about finances. Here’s a list of critiques.

    Checklist & Resources: These should be the bulk of the material. Writing a will, life insurance, family cell plans, combining investments – these types of items will probably account for the bulk of their questions.

    Worksheets: Probably not needed since most are electronic. Could provide a section on budgeting/debt resources in the section above. Goal worksheet is good idea though.

    Quizzes: More than save/spend. Include lots of different questions for the couple to start an open discussion on topics – gifting, investment, savings, goals

    *New* Financial Love Notes: Maybe a way to spice things up? Little placards like “I’m saving $10/day with my bagged lunch so I can take you out this weekend”. Probably give a few ideas and then have some write-ins.
    .-= FinEngr´s last blog ..That Thing Rich People Do PLUS GIVEAWAY =-.

    • @FinEngr – I love these ideas! The will is great. I’ve been married 10 years and we still haven’t finished ours (bad, bad me!). I guess I can make the worksheets electronic and still continue with the goal worksheet. My checklist now needs a couple of things added to it. ;). I like the different quizzes idea, great addition. And the Financial Love Notes, terrific addition. Thanks for all the great tips and congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

  9. @Budgeting the Fun Stuff – Thanks for the kind words. I think my sister is living in la-la land, definitely. We were raised by two different sets of parents (a product of a ’70’s style divorce with parents who remarried, then had more kids). I think she is under the illusion that the apartment isn’t being used, so she may as well use it herself. Though my dad has been very adament about using the apartment as their retirement fund. I’m guessing my sister is thinking they would only need the apartment for a short while. But I’m guessing this would probably turn into an ugly situation. Hopefully they’ll get their act together by next year!

  10. Suba @ Wealth Informatics Reply

    Little house, first time in your blog, coming from Yakezie. Excellent blog! I feel much closer to this blog as I live in the valley too 🙂 (read : painfully saving penny by penny for a down payment).

    This is a great idea. But I think, it might have minimal effect if they are not inclined to get things in control. My sister is engaged too, getting married in December. I love this idea. I am thinking of modifying this a little and categorize it based on goals together. Like

    (1) Buying a house. Find a very pretty house and have that as a cover sheet and include all the resources like resources on how to save for a downpayment together. Questionnaire on how much house they can afford, etc.
    (2) Vacation : An exotic location as a cover sheet and resources related to planning a vacation on budget and saving for a vacation, etc.
    (3) Retirement : similar, along with retirement calculators to work together.

    you get the idea…

    I think the pictures and categories like vacation, buying a home will make them think about the exciting future together instead of coming across like criticism. Just my 2c. I have seen dreaming is a very powerful motivation for everything. I have been dreaming about my own little house for quite some time 😉

    • @Suba – My Valley Peeps! Thanks for visiting my blog. Your ideas are great, I like the photos as encouragement. Feel free to build your box, then share your final idea. I’d love to see it in action. As for my box, I might have to modify it a bit. Thanks again for your great input. 🙂

  11. Financial Samurai Reply

    Brilliant idea! The one thing i’m wondering though is….. if they are in love, doesn’t anything else matter? 🙂

    They can take turns sleeping over each parents house, and when they land on their two feet, then they can go on the journey together!

    The other question is, perhaps the parents are happy to have them live at home? And if that’s the case, they could be doing them a favor!
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..An Inside Look At The Yakezie- Stage One Recap! =-.

    • @Financial Samurai – Oh yes, how could I forget; Love conquers all! 😉 Perhaps you’re right though. Maybe they’re thinking of going back and forth between parents’ houses and spending the night. I guess it would cost-effective, and it would reduce their responsibility load: less cleaning, no bills. I can see the attraction! Thanks for the kind words on the gift idea. 🙂

  12. @Len Penzo – I know, it’s scary! Hopefully they’ll put the babies off for a few years while they try to figure out their finances, jobs, living situation, etc. I like the title of the book, Get Financially Naked, so that might be an ice breaker on top of the topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. @Jennifer Barry – That’s an excellent point. I need to discuss that with them. I also think that if they let her and her fiancee live in their vacant apartment, they’d never get her out! They can’t seem to distinguish the boundaries of what’s theirs and what is their parents! Thanks for the comment.

  14. @Car Negotiation Coach – That’s an excellent idea. I’m not very good at sales pitches. If anyone would want to go in with me and help pitch it, I’d share the profits!

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