Getting married is a happy joyous time. Whether you planned a large ceremony or a small, intimate gathering, embarking upon your new life can be very exciting.
Now before you jump into your chariot and ride off into the sunset with your knight in white shining armor, I hope you and Mr. Right have already had “the talk” long before your “big day.” You know what talk I’m referring to. The talk about finances. This is one of the most important conversations you will have with your soon to be spouse…. and it is NOT to be taken lightly. It is important that each of you know where the other stands on issues regarding finances.
- PUT ALL YOUR FINANCIAL CARDS ON THE TABLE: Never start out your relationship keeping secrets. Your spouse needs to know if you have $30K in credit card debt. Your soon to be spouse also needs to know you accrued $75K in student loans while you were in medical school. It’s important to disclose to the other if you like spending money shopping/traveling and if you don’t budget and/or save. No one wants to find out 30 days after saying “I Do,” they’ve inherited a walking talking credit disaster.
- DECIDE WHO WILL HANDLE THE FINANCES: THIS IS NOT ABOUT CONTROLLING THE CHECKBOOK. This is about who is the better organizer or who has the time to sit down and take care of financial obligations. Believe it or not, there are some people (myself included) who still write checks. Even in the age of automatic bill pay, in some instances I am much more at ease when I am in control by writing the check. Another reason why it may be more advantageous that one spouse is favored over the other is time. Suppose your new bride has a demanding work schedule or is heavily involved in community service or the hubster works a part-time job? Decide between the two of you who would be the best fit to take on that responsibility.
- BUDGET MONTHLY TOGETHER: I recall when taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University that a couple sitting down going over the monthly budget doesn’t have to be a weekend summit. It is important to establish clear financial goals (savings, investing, retirement, new car, vacation, upsizing as you plan on a family, college funds and the list goes on.) It is important that BOTH parties speak and are heard. This would be the time to voice any concerns. If the wife is going over budget because she’s spending too much on clothes, shoes and handbags, or the hubster is losing his mind at Best Buy, bring it to the table. Not in an accusatory fashion, but in a way where your concern(s) can be heard and received. Monthly budgeting should also be a time to decide how much “pocket change/play money” the other should have. Decide on a reasonable amount and stick to it. Concerning purchases over a certain dollar amount (birthdays, anniversaries and the like, not withstanding,) couples should discuss the purchase in question before it is made.
- AS A COUPLE, YOU SHOULD BE AGGRESSIVELY ATTACKING ANY FINANCIAL DEBT: This would include any credit cards, student loans, car loans and the like. There is no such thing as “HIS debt” and “HER debt.” You are ONE FLESH. Therefore, it is YOUR debt as a couple. Just think of how quickly you can annihilate debt when you devise a plan to eliminate it. You’re a team. Teamwork makes the DREAM work. Once all debt is eliminated, you can focus your attention towards your next financial goal.
- DECIDE HOW YOUR ACCOUNTS WILL BE DIVIDED: This is always a “slippery slope” for some couples. I remember my Uncle giving my cousin and her husband marriage advice on their wedding day. His advice, “Always have ONE MONEY… PERIOD.” I may get slaughtered for writing this, but I agree in many respects. I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to marriage. If I can’t trust you with “our” money, perhaps we should rethink getting married. I understand many couples marry out of convenience, many marry for companionship and others simply because they need help. Believe it or not, some couples do put their money together with the end result being a Joint Checking/Savings/MMA Account. In essence, everything is done together. What I’ve seen with couples today goes a little something like this: Joint Bank Account, Joint Savings/MMA, Her SEPARATE checking account, His SEPARATE checking account, and in other cases I’ve seen some “secret” accounts that the spouse knew nothing about. Are you really saving for a rainy day or is mistrust lurking in your subconscious? Secret accounts in my opinion indicate there is a lack of trust which can defeat the purpose of marriage to begin with, but I’ll get off my soapbox when it comes to that. Who am I to say how a couple should divvy up their finances? I will say when I was married, my Business Accounts remained my business accounts because I started my business PRIOR to being married however, there was complete transparency regarding them. If at any time my then husband wanted to look at the bank statements, I had no problem showing him. He never asked to see them however, because he trusted me.
- STAY GROUNDED IN YOUR FINANCIAL BELIEFS NO MATTER WHAT: The #1 cause of divorce as you know is not infidelity, it’s finances. Arguments can arise from one spouse’s negligent overspending, the loss of income due to a layoff or even an unexpected pregnancy. Whatever hardship may arise, keep a united front. Talk it out. Communicate. Pray about it. Remember. The family that prays together, stays together. GOOD LUCK AND MUCH SUCCESS TO YOU!!!
~The Financial Hack ©2016