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Four Tips for Military Newlywed Home Buying Bliss

Newlyweds in the military are no different than newlywed civilians. After the nuptials are exchanged, the champagne sipped, first dances danced and photographs snapped for generations to enjoy, the work of real marriage begins.

Compared to previous generations, many of today’s newlyweds are being newly wed after they’ve been on their own for a little while. And when both parties have become a little settled in their habits it can take some time to work through the day to day logistics of sharing a life with another human being.

Most brides and grooms are coming to the table having made their own money, paid their own bills and made their own decisions about using credit. When financial issues are one of the leading factors in deciding to divorce, it is important to talk early, openly and often about money. It might be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s vitally important to be honest with each other about budget, goals, investment strategies, and even division of bill-paying labor. Revisit these discussions on a regular basis to make sure as your lives change, you adapt together.

The path ahead of you holds many financial decisions, many of which will involve credit. Acquiring a first home is usually the biggest, most stressful purchase most couples make. In some cases, it may be an eye-opening experience. Keep the following four tips in mind as you start down the path to a credit-savvy, financially-happy marriage.

Check your credit report. Get your hands on a copy of your credit reports and check them carefully. Since you were recently married, make sure any name changes are reflected, and make sure all information about you is accurate. If you find any mistakes, follow the bureau’s instructions for how to file and resolve any disputes. Make sure you check your credit report regularly in the future.

Leave your existing credit alone. What you created as a single person is still yours as a married person. Don’t cancel or close any current accounts, because doing that could hurt your score. And if one of you plans to someday be a stay-at-home parent, it could be harder to get approved for new credit. You can always add your spouse as an authorized user instead of opening a joint account. It is always a good strategy to maintain some of your own credit, in case your spouse passes away before you.

Exercise restraint. If you don’t absolutely need to open store credit to buy new items for your new “married” home, don’t do it. Many stores offer discounts when you sign up for their credit card, and it is so tempting to use this as a reason to go on a buying spree. But a sudden influx of new credit lines can trigger a negative effect on your score that future potential lenders will not like. So think twice before buying all new furniture for the den – it might cost you a higher interest rate when you apply for a new car loan later.

Pay your bills on time. Make a calendar. Talk to your spouse. If your bank offers auto bill pay, sign up for it and check it regularly. Make sure you know which spouse is responsible for paying the bills and pay them. On time. Late payments can hurt your credit score more than you might think.

When you work as a team and manage your credit effectively early on, it will pay off in the long run. If you have any tips for newly married prospective homebuyers, share them with us in the Discussion section.

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