Congratulations! 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)