When you’re just starting off life as a married couple, sometimes finances can take a backseat. However, they are too important to ignore. It’s common knowledge that financial incompatibility is one of the leading causes of divorce in America. Besides the enormous emotional burden, divorce can take a huge financial toll as well.
Here are some tips collected from personal finance experts that can help give you some ideas on approaching “money talks” as a newlywed couple.
Meet with a financial advisor.
“Meet with a third party [financial advisor] after you get back from the honeymoon who can help balance each other’s needs vs. wants and set your personal and family goals. Going to an advisor was one of the smartest things we ever did. It helped me be not so cheap and my wife Kari get a decorating budget we could live with.”
Pro Tip: When searching for a financial advisor, be sure to get clarification on how they make money. Some advisors can make a commission on financial products they sell, so it is important to know if there are any potential conflicts of interest. Your best bet would be to hire a fee-only financial advisor who gets compensated by the hour rather than by a 3rd party for selling certain securities.
“Don’t lie or omit your financial details to your spouse. My best friend and her husband have been married for 1 year. They didn’t combine their finances, so they didn’t share much about their financial situations. Well, she got pregnant and he lost his job 2 weeks later. Then he told her about his $35,000+ of credit card debt. It’s been awful but they are making it through it…”
–Crystal Stemberger, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
Pro Tip: These money conversations need to happen before marriage. That way, there will be no surprises if you do decide to combine finances after marriage.
Two words: Money dates.
“Have money dates! Have a regular time you two get together to not only review the numbers but talk about what you’re working towards.”
–Elle Martinez, Couple Money
Pro Tip: Make budgeting a fun event! Kill two birds with one stone and spend some quality time together as a bonus. This will help make these money conversations become a positive thing, versus a dreaded topic of conversation that you keep procrastinating on bringing up.
Define what decisions should be joint decisions.
“For example, you might set a spending limit of $500 that neither of you can exceed unless both of you agree. This approach gives you freedom to make day-to-day decisions but sets a cap on more weighty decisions, whether it’s purchasing life insurance, buying a new home, or planning a vacation. “
–Julie Rains, Investing to Thrive
Pro Tip: Having a clear set of guidelines of when you need to speak to your spouse about an expenditure and when it is okay to have a little autonomy is crucial. It gives each partner the independence to make their own decisions but also gives a clear indication when you need to come together to discuss purchases as a team.
Budget the time & money for dates.
“This is classic advice but so important once you get out of that ‘honeymoon stage’ in your marriage. My husband and I were so busy trying to jump start our joint debt payoff right after we got married that we didn’t find the time or money to go out on a casual date. Even if you’re just getting out of the house together once a month, it’s worth it. There are plenty of frugal ways to date.”
–Choncé Rhea, My Debt Epiphany
Pro Tip: Many young, new couples are in heavy debt paydown mode, which can put a strain on any relationship. Being able to set aside time to visit with each other without the added burden of needing to address financial issues can provide a great ‘reset’ and give you the motivation to work harder at achieving your financial goals together.
Maintain separate savings accounts
“Have each partner maintain a separate savings account. Be totally open and transparent about it. Combine everything else if you want. Divorce rates are high, and not having at least a small buffer in case of the worst can spell financial ruin later down the line should you become a statistic.”
–Brynn Conroy, Femme Frugality
Pro Tip: Nobody gets married with the intent of getting divorced, but sometimes divorce does happen. If that becomes a possibility in your relationship, having a small amount set aside could bail you out of a tough spot.
This is the time to work together to build a strong financial plan for your future dreams and goals and learn the skills to step into your financial future in a position of strength. Click here to read more important pieces of advice from couples to newlyweds.
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