Don’t let money make a mess of your dreams for the future.
Getting married is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so the last thing you want to do is go in unprepared.
Money is the No. 1 issue couples fight about. In fact, Ramsey Solutions released a study that shows money fights are the second-leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. So, making sure you’re on the same page about your finances with your future spouse is extremely important. When you sit down and talk with your partner about your finances, it builds a different level of trust in your relationship. You’ll wind up growing closer to each other as a result.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it. Before you say, “I do,” here are a few questions you should ask yourself as you get ready to have the money talk with your future spouse:
Where are you currently with your finances?
Both of you should answer this question. How much debt do you have—including student loans, car loans, mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans? What’s your annual income? How much do you have in savings?
Once you both have that information, you can make a plan to attack your debt. That leads to a very important question: Do you want debt to be a part of your marriage? I hope the answer is no, but you need to have this discussion. If you’re determined to get out of debt and your spouse continues to pile up credit card debt, then you’re headed toward marital stress.
Debt is a thief. It steals your money and your joy. The last thing you want to do is delay all of those dreams with your future spouse. Being debt-free allows you to turn dreams into reality. So, make a plan to get out of debt together, and don’t let it be an option ever again.
What are your future dreams?
Where do you picture yourself and your spouse years from now? What type of lifestyle are you living? You probably already know the answer, and these are things you should be sharing with each other, too.
Talking about money with your partner binds you on an intimate level unlike anything else. You wind up sharing your hopes and dreams together, and who doesn’t want that? The honeymoon doesn’t have to end when your wedding is over. Dream together, and make a plan for your money together. I promise, you’ll add a sense of peace in your marriage that could not exist with debt.
Am I a spender or a saver?
You probably know the answer to this question immediately. Would you rather spend your time shopping at the mall or updating your budget in Excel?
The spender and the saver are opposites, but it’s true when they say opposites attract. Often in marriage, one is a spender and one is a saver. And that’s OK. It doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. You balance each other out.
The problems start when you go through life without understanding each other’s natural tendencies. You have to start by embracing those differences. There is no right or wrong here. The key is to communicate and make a plan for your money together. Spenders shouldn’t let all of the budgeting fall to the saver and vice versa. You are one now.
What are your financial fears?
This might not be a fun question, but it’s an important one. Fear can make us do crazy things, especially when it comes to your money. Fear is what leads to people hiding purchases from their spouse or getting a secret credit card—both of which are bad ideas.
Maybe you’re afraid because you don’t have the security that comes with savings or maybe you’re scared because you’re living paycheck to paycheck, like most Americans. Whatever your fears are, share them with your partner. Getting your fears out in the open helps you to get on the same page when it comes to values and money.
Do I understand how a budget works?
If you don’t know how to make a budget, stop what you’re doing and learn how to create one. I know you’re likely thinking “Budgets are the worst!” or “You can’t have fun when you’re on a budget!” Budgeting might seem restrictive, but telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went actually gives you permission to spend. It’s also a great way to deepen communication with your spouse because you’re planning for your future together.
Your budget is your game plan. With a zero-based budget, you list your monthly income at the top of the page. Then list all your monthly expenses—gas, food, rent, debt payments, and so on—below that. The income minus the outgo should equal zero. Every dollar should have a “name.” Give yourself grace. It will take a few months to get used to budgeting, but you’ll get there.