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:
- She’s turning 29 this year and still lives at home.
- She’s not employed.
- Her fiancee lives with his parents and he’s my age (late 30’s).
- 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.
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?