Being a newlywed (shout out to hubby, Joel), I know that money is an important factor to discuss with your spouse before you take the big step. There are many different approaches to handling finances within a marriage there isn’t just one method that is the right formula. You have to decide within your own relationship which works best for you. Before my husband and I got married, we had already merged accounts for a few years- so we were on the same page about our finances. This was helpful to make a smooth transition into our marriage.
There is some money management advice to think about whether you are ready to take a leap and get married or even if you have been married and are looking for a new approach.
1. Talk openly about money: Money can be an uncomfortable subject. People don’t like to dive deep into their financial situation or be open about what is going on- even if they are married! However, if you want to have a healthy marriage, you need to be completely honest about your finances. You need to be able to discuss with each other what your needs are, where your risks are, what your debt is like and what your goals are. This leads to a more in depth conversation about how you can reach goals and overcome obstacles together.
2. Share Goals: While each person can have their own goals, it is important to have some shared goals. For instance, saying I want to save X amount of dollars by July or by next summer I would like to have enough for a down payment on a house. Not only does this put you on the same page, it gives you a more concrete plan to work towards and think about during your everyday spending habits.
3. Share costs and discuss needs: I am a strong advocate for having a joint account and sharing everything. I do realize, however, that it is not for everyone, and the plan that you and your spouse have come up with could very well be working and be the plan for you. Again, it is all about the honesty behind your plan and making sure you and your spouse are both aware of who is contributing what and the expectations from each other.
4. Visit a financial planner together: Everyone’s situation is different. There should be some point (maybe when discussing goals) where you and your spouse should visit a financial planner that can help you talk about retirement, investing or saving up for some of your big goals. If anything, they will get you on the same page.
5. Respect each others skills: One person might be great at handling day to day bills while the other person is a whiz at investing. Make sure you are respecting what one another is good at (but keep the money management responsibilities equal.)
6. Support each other: This is the most important aspect- support. Remember, marriage is for better and for worse. Which means if you or a spouse is going through something like a layoff or something else that can put stress on finances, you are there for them. You come up with a new plan together. You work it out.
I hope you can all take something away from this! Don’t under assess the importance of these discussions. They make a world of difference.