As the peak wedding season is approaching and more engaged couples plan to tie the knot, its important to have the “how much are you spending” before the walk down the aisle. Talking about money can be an emotionally charged subject, but it’s an important conversation for couples to have, as it’s never too early or too late to have the talk.
Marriage may be born a romantic notion, yet statistics show its foundation is built more on the management of cash than anything else. In fact, couples who fight about money once a week are 30% more likely to divorce than those who only quarrel a few times per month, according to research by Utah State University professor Jeffrey Dew published in “The State of Our Unions,” a 2009 report released by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. Dew also found the more consumer debt a newlywed couple accrues, the unhappier they become.
No, it’s not romantic in the traditional sense. And yes, you may disagree, but it’s better to figure out all of the “rules” to your financial relationship before the bills start to arrive or a hot financial issue arises. So remove the emotion by treating the conversation like you would a business meeting (Bill & Hillary Clinton were masters at this): set a date, prepare, and establish some ground rules to help foster a stronger dialogue.
Here are 6 financial things to discuss before you get married:
· Figure out your financial styles– Just like you have your own personal style, you probably have your own financial style, even if you’ve never thought about it. Are you a piggy bank saver, but your partner lives spends everything they have & more? What are each of your short-term and long-term financial goals? For what do you use your credit cards? The answer to all of these questions can shed some light on your individual financial styles.
· Disclose your financial past– When it comes to finances, you can’t just bury your past. So disclose things like how much debt you each have, whether or not you have ever filed for bankruptcy and where you stand today in order to create a clearer picture of how you can build a future together. Heck, pull a credit report on your spouse, why not?
· Review documents– Along with other legal documents, review who you would each like your beneficiaries to be on life insurance policies, IRAs, employer-sponsored retirement plans and pensions. And explain why you want to leave all of your estate to your old girlfriend from high school and your illegitimate love child.
· Discuss whether you want a joint account, a separate account or both– There is no right or wrong answer for which is best, it’s about what works for you as a couple, but it’s healthy to foster an open dialogue so that each of you feels good about the decision. Separate accounts are great if you want to have a mistress, otherwise just stick with a joint account.
· Work out a system to determine who will pay for what– If you opt for separate accounts, consider how you want to handle the daily finances and who will pay for what. This helps foster a sense of shared responsibility but it also helps you stay organized and on top of bills. This way when a check bounces their is only one person to blame, the idiot.
· Set up a schedule– Once a month go through where you are on each of your accounts. And once a year do a “deep dive” into all accounts and review your progress towards your goals. Sink or swim right, wrong. Or you can just hope for the best and like the Big Bang theory, everything evolves over time and improves from a sea of chaos…. that makes sense right?
You have any other matters that should be discussed before they tie the knot?