I would recommend taking a course together on effective communications, and I would also suggest taking a course on budgeting and family financial planning.
You need to be able to effectively communicate your financial plans and goals, your financial actions, and learn to both be honest and open with your partner. You also need to be certain that you come to an agreement.
The first step is to draft a budget that you both agree to follow. The following is a rough outline that you could use to begin. There are online budgeting tools, and a spreadsheet where you can track planned versus actuals may better inform your decisions. Depending upon your agreed priorities, you may adjust the following percentages,
Essentials (<50% of net income)
- Car Payment
- Car Insurance
- Save at least 10% of your income (pay yourself first)
- Savings (Purposed) (ex: car, furniture, vacation, emergency)
- Savings (long term)
- Student Loan
- Car Payment
- Credit Cards
Lifestyle (<30%) - this is your discretionary income, where you spend on the things you want
- Personal Items
Certain expense categories are large and deserve special advice. Try to limit your housing costs to 25% of your income, unless you live in a high-cost/rent area (where you might budget as high as 35%).
Limit your expenses for vehicles below 10% of income. And expensive vehicle might be budgeted (partly) from Lifestyle. Limiting your auto payment to 5% of your income may be a wise choice (when possible).
Some families spend $200-300/month on cable TV, and $200-300/month on cellphones. These are Lifestyle decisions, and those on constrained budgets might examine the value from those expenses against the benefit.
Dining out can be a budget buster, and those on constrained budgets might consider paying less for convenience, and preparing more meals at home. An average family might spend 8-10% of their income on food.
Once you have a budget, you want to handle the following steps,
- Save an Emergency fund of $1000-2000
- Obtain 1-2 credit cards (each, separate) (to build credit history)
- payoff debt
- Save emergency fund of 6 months expenses
- Save 10-20% of your income for retirement
- Buying a home? Save your down payment (20%)
- Build your credit (modest car loan, modest personal loan)
- Investments (invest your savings to earn money)
- Tax reduction?
- Build wealth?
Many of the steps are choices based upon your specific priorities.