The leading cause for divorce in America is Financial Discord, simply put; couples fighting about money. Life as a married couple is supposed to be fun, happy and stress-free. I mean after all now you have two paychecks to help fund that big girl bag! But before you take out that joint credit card and begin putting that card into a cardiac arrest there are a few quick tips that all engaged couples should follow to make the transition into the married world financially responsibly.
Expose your financial history before walking down the aisle.
No one’s saying you have to tell your future spouse all the tawdry details of your past. However, full financial disclosure is an absolute must.
Financial stress is the top cause of divorce and fighting among married couples. To avoid this oh-so-common pitfall, couples should schedule a financial sit-down well before the big day. Take this opportunity to expose all financial demons: loans of any variety (student, car and mortgage), monthly spending habits, outstanding medical bills and the like. Run credit checks to find any red flags that could prevent or delay future purchases. From now on all major purchases such as a home, car or loan will in all likelihood be joint ventures. As such they either use the lowest credit score or an average of the two so it’s time to get financially secure.
Discuss priorities: Not everyone has the same financial goals. Have an open discussion regarding your philosophies on spending money and saving. For example, you might see saving for retirement as a priority, while he sees taking exotic vacations every year as being important. Teamwork and compromise are key words.
Make a budget: Set aside money to pay the bills, mortgage and utilities, set aside money for retirement or other major purchases and then see what’s left. With the money left over ensure you have some for fun, some discretionary funds (pool table and pizza!), some for savings and some for a rainy day.
Stick to the budget: seriously.
Assign roles: Who will handle the day-to-day financial decisions like paying bills, budgeting and saving? Things you may want to set money aside for include kids’ college education, buying a home, and retirement. Who’s in charge of monitoring where the money is going?
Although retirement may seem eons away, it’s never too soon to start planning for the future. Discuss your budget and the percentage of all incomes that should be dedicated to retirement, college funds for the future kid and general savings. Take steps to prevent financial discord by having regular, calm discussions about any concerns, rather than pointing fingers in a he-said, she-said manner.
Couples with modest incomes who are open and honest about their financial expectations are more likely to ride off into the sunset happy, relaxed and in love. And isn’t that what life is all about?