Getting married is the biggest emotional commitment you will ever make. But, while many couples worry how living together might affect their relationship, few consider how it might affect their finances.
The biggest marriage concern for many couples is how they will cope on the domestic front. Will there be arguments over the washing up? Or, who will take on the lion’s share of the cooking in this marriage?
However, putting finances to the bottom of the marriage agenda can be a costly mistake. Different attitudes towards money and how to spend and save it can be one of the biggest relationship breakers out there.
A 2011 survey by Utah State University in the United States found that couples who argued over money once or twice a week were twice as likely to divorce as those who bickered less than once a month.
However, couples should expect to face financial challenges in their marriage and, with almost half of American separated or divorced adults saying they wished they’d discussed money before getting married, it is definitely as important as the whole ‘are we going to have children?’ discussion.
To help couples get financially savvy, here are seven ways to ensure your values about money are on the same page before you tie the knot:
1. Discover your partner’s money personality
Before marriage, find out what your future spouse’s values are towards money. A simple way is to imagine you have won USD 1 million in cash. Ask each other what you would do with that money. The answers will offer an instant insight into each other’s attitudes towards finances. If one is a penny pincher that stashes every dirham in a savings account and the other an extravagant spender, it’s time to address those issues now.
2. Discuss your dreams
Both of you will have an idea before marriage of how your future will look and where you want to end up in life. By discussing where you want to go, you can then make realistic financial judgments on how you are going to save enough to get there.
3. Share the paperwork
Personal finance is a private thing but not in a marriage. Show each other your bank account and credit cards statements. Talk about what investments you have, how much you have in that fixed deposit savings account or how many shares you have. If there is a lot of debt, discuss how much and the best way to pay it off. It could be your new spouse will help you become a financially wiser person.
4. Make a plan
You have nailed down your dreams and attitudes to money, now you need to develop a solid financial structure for the future. For those less financially savvy, speak to a financial planner to help you identify what you need to do to achieve your goals.
5. Elect a leader
It can work better if one person takes on the financial responsibility for the marriage particularly where one is a better saver than the other. If one person is a spender and wants everything now including that luxury car or a new home, then the other can help them make better decisions by suggesting the best car loans on the market or mortgages with the best interest rates. At the same time, while it can be wise to have one person managing the finances, it’s just as important that both are fully aware of what is going on. Couples who share a saving strategy towards a particular goal are more likely to stay together.
6. Be prepared
As you enter the marriage sphere, your two incomes will cover your joint expenses and that’s something you will get used to very quickly, particularly if you are going to have children. This means if you one of you is involved in an accident or dies, it can leave the other financially strapped. For that reason make sure you put policies in place such as life and critical illness cover as well as a will and a solid financial plan. Also, make sure both partners are fully aware of where all the money and the relevant documentation is.
6. Review and discuss
Make sure you discuss your money priorities regularly in the run up to the wedding and afterwards. Things change and you need to adjust your money habits accordingly. If you do have children and one decides to stay at home for a while, then it means you can plan ahead to ensure that can happen.
7. Budget, budget, budget
As well as a budget for the wedding, you also need a monthly budget for the rest of your life. By keeping track, it will help the partnership see if one person is veering off budget too much. Good luck!