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Have The Money Talk When You Get Engaged

By Joanna Crain

Financially secure coupleCongratulations! Depending on your situation, you either popped the question or accepted a proposal, either way now you’re engaged. While this is very exciting and you surely have a bright future ahead, you may have forgotten to talk about one not-so-little issue: your finances. I don’t mean wedding-related finances, like how the heck you’re going to pay for the 50 extra guests you didn’t plan for or paying off the ring you were two grand over-budget on. Those are all valid concerns, but what about after the wedding, when things settle down and you realize your spouse is draining the bank or they are so tight with money you have to pry it out of their fist. What then? If only you had known before the “I dos,” you could have come up with a solution that worked for the both of you from the beginning or jumped ship. That’s harsh, yes, but it’s the hard truth.

Finances are estimated to contribute to 90% of divorces in the United States. With those numbers, you can’t play around with your finances or pretend everything will work itself out. Money means different things to different people including freedom, control, and self-worth. Finding out just what it’s about for your partner is a good place to start. Begin a dialogue while you are still “I” and not “we”.

Remember, when we are still in the courting phase of our relationships, some things are non-issues. He drives a dream car and always has cash on hand to take you to those sushi dinners. She is so classy and is always impeccable with her grooming and clothes. Did you ever think how much money it takes to maintain the qualities we like in the other? His car payment is $700 and he never holds back when it comes to fine food. He doesn’t blink an eye at a $200 tab four to five nights a week. If you’d considered how he pays for all that, you might have known his credit card debt is over $30,000. She spends $200 every month to upkeep her hairstyle and doesn’t think twice about spending $300 on shoes, even when her rent is due.

The point here is that there are a lot of things we don’t realize about our significant other’s financial situation until we get married. Part of your relationship may be based around spending habits that simply cannot be supported in the long run. Figure these things out earlier than later before they become an even bigger issue post-marriage. Make sure you’re on the same page and feel comfortable with each other’s financial situations and how you plan to approach finances as a team once you’re married. If you can’t agree on a setup, then you may want to consult a financial expert or as a worst-case scenario, may have to seriously reconsider marriage.

How will both of your finances play out once the wedding papers are filed? You get the picture. Take the time now to talk about money, create a financial plan and budget and come to an agreement about how you will approach money together all before you take the plunge. Wedded bliss can be yours if you take the right steps to make it happen.

(photo credit: whoalse)

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  • http://www.pfsdebtrelief.com Stephan

    great tips, this is such an easy topic to bring up before marriage as it wil save you years of misery if you dont ask and the person you are marrying does the exact opposite when it comes to PF as you do!

  • http://www.jgwfunding.com/ James

    how scary is it to think some people do spend hundreds of dollars on dinners out and thousands of dollars on other of life’s pleasures.

    the money talk is not easy to have trust me i have had it and it back fired BIG time, but that might be better than getting married and then turning around and having to not only get divorced but also having to go see a financial councilor because you are broke as a joke.

  • Olivia

    One of many good assignments we had in premarital counseling was to hash out a post wedding budget. Since I was working and he was finishing graduate school it had the added advatange of making us aware of what two people living on one income would mean. Since our growing up financial experiences were different “the talk” helped us to pool our understanding and work through the gaps.

  • David

    I had to read this post because I disagreed with the heading. Have the money talk BEFORE engaged. By the time you engaged you are already emotionally sucked in, and so will likely ignore red flags. Potential mates should be weeded out in the first dates if there is a major incompatibility. Determining if your are financially incompatible is just as important as whether or not that person wants kids, whether the other person has toxic parents (evil in-laws can tank a marriage), where he/she envisions living and so on. Starry-eyed romance wears real thin when you can’t pay the electric bill because she blew $300 at a spa. Money is the major area of problems, so you need to figure this out real early.

    • Joanna Crain

      David,

      I agree with you 100%. I initially entitled this post “So You’re Engaged: Forget the Registry Talk Money”. While I think it is ideal to discuss money way before you get to the engagement stage, this post was directed at those who have already gotten engaged but haven’t discussed finances.

      I will do a follow up post to address the dating phase money talk. Thanks so much for your comments!

      Kindest Regards,
      Joanna

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