The wedding day is right around the corner and there are countless tools and checklists to guide you on what to do to be prepared for the celebration. However, there are fewer resources and what seems like much less time devoted to preparing our hearts and minds for the marriage after the vows. Seems ironic, doesn’t it? Today, we are going to have an honest conversation about the effects of money on marriage. I can’t say how many times I have heard that conflicts around money is one of the main reasons for divorce. So, let’s just put it out there on the table and talk about it!
The Burden of Secret Debt
Debt defined is something that is owed or due. In a culture consumed by possessions, no one boasts about how much debt they have. It’s not something we are proud to have, so we rarely talk about the debt that has built up over time. Like most things we don’t want to address, we bury bury them in the back of our minds and they often become a burden we bear. I’m a firm believer that there is freedom and power when we bring our dark secrets to light. Debt doesn’t have to be something that you are in bondage to. As a couple, I encourage you to have an honest conversation about the debt you have and come up with a plan to pay it off. My husband and I have come up with a goal that by our fifth wedding anniversary we will be debt-free and in a financial place to buy a house!
Knowing about debt is better than not knowing and trust me when I say, it’s better to have a conversation about it sooner rather than later. These are some of the most common forms of debt that couples have when they get married:
- Credit Card
- Engagement Ring
- Wedding and Honeymoon
Bond over Budgeting
They say that your bank statement is the best reflection of what you love. During the dating stage or our relationships, we rarely ever are concerned about what our partner is spending money on. But, it’s good to have a conversation about budget before the wedding. Where do you like to spend your money? Where does your man like to spend his?
My husband Robert didn’t know how much a woman’s haircut and color costs or my investment in and love for MadeWell jeans! And I sure wasn’t aware of how quickly the costs of bike parts and video games would add up!
Robert and I found that having a monthly budget has helped us significantly when it comes to knowing how much money was coming in and where we were putting it. It has also been helpful to have a monthly “Carlie Fund” and “Robert Fund” with allocated money that we can spend without judgment. We both have a designated amount that we can spend on items we don’t need but enjoy. (So, in our house, that’s MadeWell jeans and video games lol).
Separate or Shared Bank Accounts?
This then leads to the next question of bank accounts. Will you have separate or shared bank accounts with your spouse? Growing up, my parents always shared a bank account and I saw that as just a normal part of marriage. My instinct of being married means sharing money, but I know that is not always the case for everyone. Sharing money takes trust and if trust has been broken, it is understandable if couples decide to have separate bank accounts to remain accountable for their own spending. See where you guys are at and make a decision with the knowledge that either route can be a healthy choice.
Set Mutual Goals-and Dream BIG!
My favorite part of marriage is coming together and creating shared goals for our lives. Money is a piece of that. Grab a glass of wine with your love, then sit down and dream up a financial plan for your lives! Getting on the same page about your financial goals and having something to work towards makes living on a budget and agreeing on that budget MUCH easier. These are some fun goals to work toward:
- Vacation to Europe with CASH
- Student Debt Paid Off
- Monthly Contributions to a Retirement Fund
- One Year’s Expenses in Savings aka “Rainy Day Fund”
- Contribute to a Local Charity
Money can be a means for conflict or a means for flexibility and celebration! My desire for you and your spouse is to be on mutually invested in the importance of your finances. I’ll be the first to say that meeting financial goals does not happen overnight, it takes consistent small steps to make big dreams come true. And it makes the journey so much sweeter to have someone like-minded by your side.
My husband and I found that taking a Financial Peace class with a local group and meeting with a Financial Planner beneficial. They spurred conversations we wouldn’t have had otherwise and provided support we needed. I would love to hear what steps you have taken to meet your financial goals and how you’ve worked together to face finances in your relationship!