When Love, Marriage and Money Meet
How to be open about your finances with your fiancé before you get married and avoid taking on too much debt with your wedding.
Nearly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. That number fluctuates, but not by much – and the leading cause of divorce is financial issues. Couples argue about money a lot. As a matter of fact, a recent report found that 65 percent of couples argue about their finances.
Still, money matters don’t have to be a deal breaker in your relationship. There are things you can do to alleviate the arguments and get on the same page. However, you and your fiancé first have to get serious and sit down and discuss, in detail, your finances before the wedding day.
Discussing money issues before marriage
There should be no between committed couples when it comes to money. With that in mind, you need to get all of your financial issues out in the open before marriage. Nearly 70 percent of adults in a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey said they had negative feelings about discussing money with their partner.
Don’t be a part of that percentage. Consider the following points for discussion:
- Discuss the importance of money in your life
If you value money and want to save as much as possible for retirement or for yearly vacations but your future spouse doesn’t care about saving and would rather spend frivolously and worry about the consequences later, there’s a potential problem brewing.
Talk to each other about the importance of money and find a middle ground so you’re both not at each other’s throats every time a new bill arrives. And always be sure to be honest. After all, how can you balance a budget if you aren’t working with the real picture? Don’t be a couple that looks good on paper but fails in practice – talk honestly.
- Talk about any debt issues you may have
It would be nice to know if your future husband or wife is drowning in debt. When you get married and combine your finances, you may have to share in the responsibility of paying off debt, so you want to know how much is there.
If there is a debt problem with one or both parties, don’t ignore it. Talk about the problem and try to find solutions such as credit counseling or debt management assistance. If it’s not discussed there is the likelihood of some explosive arguments when the truth is finally revealed.
- Discuss any family problems
What if your future spouse has aging parents and they can’t take care of themselves financially? He or she may feel obligated to invest in their future wellbeing – this could mean spending money on assisted living or even inviting them into your home. Regardless, it could become a huge expense and one that both of you should agree upon.
- Planning a family
A healthy discussion on whether or not you both want children is a good idea to have before you say “I do.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects reports that as of 2012 it will cost $241, 080 to raise a child to age 18. That’s serious money and saving right away is essential.
- Talk about budgeting
It’s also a good idea to find a happy medium when it comes to saving versus spending. You need to blend your viewpoints about money management and set a budget that allows you to pay your bills, save money, and still enjoy your life together.
This would also be a good time to discuss having joint accounts or at least having one joint account even if you keep other accounts separated. It’s actually a good idea to have one account for paying bills since it makes things easier. That way both of you can keep tabs on the account and budgeting is less of a hassle.
- Be constructive, not destructive
Both of your opinions should count evenly in financial discussions. Losing your temper is counterproductive. Respect each other’s thoughts and, if necessary, seek professional help together if you get into trouble.
Getting married without going into debt
The average cost of a wedding is now hovering around $28,000. Of course that number fluctuates depending on where you live – a New York wedding costs more than a wedding in Alaska, but regardless of region, the numbers are staggering.
One question to ask while planning your wedding is, “Why do I want to go into serious debt for one day?” Sure it’s an important day, but you have a whole life ahead, and a lavish celebration could saddle you with debt that might take much of that life to pay back.
Here’s how to keep wedding expenses to a minimum.
- Venue: You don’t have to celebrate in an exotic location. Try a local church with a reception hall, a VFW, or maybe even a friend’s home if they don’t mind a small crowd.
- Guest list: If some guests have large families, just invite the adults. Also, don’t feel compelled to invite your distant relatives, especially if you haven’t seen them in 10 years. Cutting guests can be difficult, but it saves money.
- Day of the wedding: Avoid Saturday nights. Try a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon. You may qualify for a discount or at the very least, a lower price.
- Arrangements: Buy grocery-store bouquets and make them into personalized arrangements. If you don’t have the time or skill, perhaps a friend would love to help out.
- Alcohol: Serve beer and wine and forget about the mixed drinks unless you have a cash bar in which case, make sure to get the prices per drink to your guests in advance so they know what they’ll spend.
- Favors: Bake homemade cookies, or purchase votive candles in bulk to decorate the tables and double as gifts. Visit a craft store for other money-saving ideas.
- Food: Plated meals can get expensive but so can buffet style servings. If you are celebrating at the VFW or other local venue consider making an informal meal of salads and sandwiches and maybe one hot dish such as lasagna.
- Entertainment: Maybe a friend knows how to DJ or is in a band that plays fun music and would love an opportunity for a live show. DJ’s are usually less expensive and are more available on Friday nights and Sundays.
- Wedding dress: The average cost of a wedding dress is $1,211 according to the wedding planning website The Knot. If you are open to used dresses visit consignment shops or try preownedweddingdresses.com. You can even sell your wedding dress on the site. Also check out sample sales. Bridal salons host sample sales to clear out last season’s gowns.
Remember, unless you’ve saved or budgeted for a big wedding, you can be paying off the thousands charged or borrowed for up to a decade or more after your big day. That’s a stressful way to start a marriage especially if you want to buy a home or start a family right after you tie the knot.
If you or your fiancé have debt problems or just want to talk about improving money management skills and budgeting, call Consolidated Credit today. A certified credit counselor can evaluate your debts and help to properly plan for your new life together. Call to speak with a credit counselor now. You can also take the first step online with a free Debt & Budget Analysis.