Congratulations, you just got engaged and plan to tie the knot! As you plan your fairy tale wedding, fantasize about your dream home and your adventures together. Somewhere between selecting what flowers best suit your wedding gown and sampling more than your fair share of wedding cake, you momentarily step back to reality to think about finances?
Let’s face it, talking about money with your soon-to-be husband or wife isn’t particularly romantic—but it is of paramount importance. According to Business Insider, money ranks as one of the top reasons couples file for a divorce, behind infidelity. What starts as troubles in paradise, can later lead to lawyers dividing assets, business interests and determining visitation rights. A path that may be avoidable by addressing and assessing each other’s financial positions. An uncomfortable topic for many, and how does one ask about finances while still dating?
“Hi, my name’s Pooja, I enjoy traveling, Game of Thrones and my credit score is…”
My parents’ generation was different, they married young and had little to call their own. With student loan debt at all-time highs and easy access to credit, saying “Yes” may have you accepting more than just a hand in marriage, inadvertently, you may be taking on a financial burden. Challenges arises when it comes to mixing love with money, and not talking about financial values before tying the knot.
When discussing financial values with your future spouse, consider the following:
1. Each partner’s role
A good marriage is based on shared responsibilities, assigning which spouse is responsible for paying bills and tracking the household budget. Discuss everything from what you spend your money on to how you’ll handle unexpected expenses. Will you have separate bank accounts or joint accounts to pay bills? Remember to keep an open mind and seek the help of a qualified financial advisor to provide a helpful outside perspective, as you work through this process. When working with families, we often remind our clients that the CEO of the home, does not also have to be the CFO, and sharing responsibilities can lead to a better financial and personal outcome.
2. DEBT- Credit Card, Student Loans, Private Loans, Car Payments- oh my!
Debt isn’t necessarily a reason to put off your wedding, but hiding debt is, and should be an immediate red flag. Imagine, you and your spouse getting denied for your first mortgage together. Not being able to close on the first home together, may have you out of the honeymoon phase quicker than expected.
Before you set a date, have a discussion about finances. Once you’re married, the role of debt changes dramatically. Both spouses may be responsible for debts either of you incur from that point on. That’s why it’s so important to discuss beforehand what kind of debt you’d be comfortable holding individually, as a couple, and how you might manage that debt together.
3. Spending styles- Are you a Spender or Saver?
A marriage between a spender and a saver might create the perfect balance. Figure out your own habits first, such as when you splurge and when you pinch your pennies. Then share that information with your partner. Note any differences that could cause friction, such as how you use credit cards, and develop strategies for dealing with them. Know thyself and thy trouble spots. Then be honest and flexible.
“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”— Robert Kiyosaki
When two people decide to get married, most come with their own established bank and savings accounts, retirement assets, investments, and other assets. Those assets may include property, artwork, jewelry, cars, etc. Placing everything under joint ownership could mean splitting a family heirloom with your significant other, if things do not go as planned. Remember, if you receive an inheritance in your name, it is important to know how the inheritance will be titled or owned.
5. Financing Your Future
Have regular “what-if” chats about your future together. Do you plan to buy a home? Are you considering children? What if one, or both are diagnosed with an illness? Planning can help you figure out how to get closer to these goals. Keeping an eye on the future doesn’t just help with long-range financial planning; it is also a great way to bond as a couple. Don’t be afraid to keep reviewing your plans. As life changes, your goals will change, too.
“It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.”— George Lorimer
It is a lot to take in, especially when planning for a wedding. But knowing where you each stand before you take that big step, will ease possible conflicts in the future.
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The views expressed here are of the author, not Advisory Services Network, LLC, and should not be construed as tax or legal advice. Neither the author nor Advisory Services Network, LLC gives tax or legal advice.