Financial conversations matter before you get married. Don’t let your “over the moon” feeling toward your future spouse cloud your view of reality. There are some scary statistics out there pertaining to marriage and money.
According to the University of Virginia’s The State of Our Unions report, the average first-time marrying couple today has a 40 per cent to 50 per cent chance of divorce over their lifetime.
Your relationship can prevail even if you don’t make a mint — but you’ll have to work as a team to pull it off. That is where financial conversations come into play. Researchers speculate that lower-income earning couples are more likely to separate not because of their low-income, but because of the stress and money-related fighting that often comes with not having enough to go around.
So, to avoid future fights, be sure to have the following five financial conversations before you walk down the aisle:
How Your Parents Dealt with Money: You may expect your future wife to take on the bulk of child rearing responsibilities because your mom did, or you may assume your soon-to-be husband will take care of the yard work because that was your dad’s job. These assumptions trickle into finances. If you grew up in a household where money was managed strictly, you may be more of a tightwad than your fiancée, who grew up in a home where spending was liberal.
Share Your Current Debt and Credit Status: All too many young people marry an individual with a mysterious financial situation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to find out the details now. Maybe you know your boyfriend has a good job and makes decent money, but do you know if he’s over his head in debt? You don’t necessarily need to go through each other’s spending line-by-line (though that’s not a terrible idea) but you should at least pull credit reports to share before you get married.
How You’ll Deal with Combining Your Finances: You’re more likely to trust your spouse financially and to work together as a team on your money if your finances are combined once you’re married. This should include checking accounts, expenses, and budgets. But how you’ll do this may look different from the next couple. For instance, some couples do a complete joining of finances right away.
Define Your Financial Goals: When it comes to finances, you and your future spouse may have completely different goals. Maybe your future wife dreams of one day being a stay-at-home mom, even if it means living on a shoestring budget, while you dream of the kind of financial success that allows you to travel every year. If you have the right financial plan, both of those dreams could be possible, but you need to be on the same page to get there.
Decide Who Will Deal with Everyday Spending and Budgeting: Finally, before you combine your finances, take the time to figure out who will take the lead on managing them. For convenience sake, usually one person deals more closely with paying bills, managing the budget, and staying on top of the checking account balance.
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