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Marriage and FinancesThe title sums it up nicely. For some those three little words drip off their tongues contemptuously. For others they represent an occasional disagreement in an otherwise happy union. What is the difference between the two ways of looking at things? Not a lot, really. Here are five tips that may help you fall into the happy union category.

Eyes Wide Open

During the courtship and intense love phase of a relationship, we tend to overlook the shortcomings of a potential mate. Just as you should not overlook an issue with substance abuse, you should not overlook an issue with debt addiction or a devil-may-care attitude about money. Keep you eyes open to spending habits and general views about finances that do not mesh. Try not to fool yourself into thinking that you can drastically change your partner.

Discuss Money Before Making Wedding Plans

A study has shown that less than half of all couples discuss money before the nuptials. Another study shows that money is a factor in more than sixty percent of all divorces. That shows a sad lack of communication prior to marriage. If you can not communicate about money, how can you communicate effectively in other areas? My apologies for the side rant.

Here are a few topics of conversation about money that should come up before the wedding:

  • What are your views on money? Some think of money as a means to meet goals, others think of it as a way to get the bills paid and have a good time. Your views need to match your potential partner’s or you will be arguing quite often.
  • Do you have any debts? You do not want to find out that your new spouse has a huge debt load after the wedding. You both need to put all of your debts on the table months before the wedding and explain your plans for paying that debt off. If your potential spouse’s plan involves you pitching in significantly, you may want to slow your wedding plans a bit.
  • What are your money plans? Simple stuff like planning for retirement, paying off debt, padding a savings account to purchase a home all need to be fully discussed. Again, if you have severely opposing views on the future, you will be arguing quite often. This might be a good time to agree on taking small steps toward future goals, but in separate accounts until you are married.

Goal Setting

Setting goals is a necessary part of a successful life. You need to set goals at work and in your home life. Setting financial goals can help you budget more effectively and smooth out a few of the bumps that will crop up along the way. These goals need to include the three Whats: What is the goal…be clear and concise. What date should the goal be met by. What am I expected to contribute in order to meet these goals.

Clear Expectations

Prior to the wedding you and your spouse should build a household budget. During that process, determine individual expectations. You may want to factor in things like individual income. After all, if your partner makes less than you, it is not realistic to expect them to cover an equal portion of the bills.

You may have a few small arguments while you are going through this process. As long as they are small and end quickly with a reasonable compromise, you should be fine. If you find your potential spouse avoiding any financial discussion or the arguments become severe, you may need to seriously consider the wisdom of your impending marriage.

 

About the author: Jerry Coffey

 

Jerry Coffey spent many years in a debt-riddled gray area somewhere between broke and desperately broke. His seemingly endless need for more and more cash led him to payday loans, repossessions, bankruptcy, and depression. After years of the same financial style, he heard a piece of advice that inspired him to find a way to change. The advice: ''The very definition of a fool is someone who continues to do the same things, but expects different results.'' This led him to a much more frugal lifestyle that sees all of his bills paid on time and a growing savings account. Even the seed of a retirement account has begun to sprout.

 

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