When you think of a wedding, golden rings, bells, and buffets may come to mind – but what about after the celebration is over and the happy couple have said their “I-do’s”? For those who don’t have serious and continuous discussions about finances, the future could spell trouble, and even divorce, for 36.7% of marriages. So, what are couples to do to keep from falling victim to financial distress?
Don’t Lie About Your Finances
Financial infidelity is a serious offense against your spouse and can be extremely damaging to a marriage. You should be open and honest with your partner about the debts or incomes you have. This is not to say separate finances are always a bad idea, but dishonesty can cause harm to a relationship.
Talk About the Details
What are your life goals? Was there tension between your parents over money? What do you do to celebrate holidays? Are you a spender or saver? Some of these questions may seem trivial, but the answers reveal important information about your personal relationship to money. These distinctions will help you identify potential differences and allow you to find a way to reconcile them.
Build a Budget
Taking the time to build a realistic budget that you can stick to is crucial for your financial well-being. After all, you can’t manage your money if you don’t know where it’s going. You and your spouse should decide how you will handle day-to-day expenses, as well as develop a protocol for big ticket purchases.
There isn’t an inherent problem with someone assuming the role of the official bill-payer, but both parties need to be involved in understanding the budget and the big picture. This means both spouses should be tracking daily spending to stay on target. A helpful way to keep in sync is to have a weekly or monthly meeting to talk business and stay up to date. Pour a glass of wine and pour over your excel sheets together – very romantic!
Make Sure You’re Covered
Are you each other’s beneficiaries on all accounts? Is a will in place? Do you have sufficient insurance coverage? Should you file taxes jointly or separately? Give yourself peace of mind and protection by consulting with professionals to tackle these complex questions.
Utilizing a tax professional, financial planner, or attorney can save you a lot of headaches and trouble in the long term. It is also helpful when both parties are willing to meet with these professionals and be engaged in the process. While market commentary and investing might not be particularly thrilling to your partner, they should still have a relationship with your advisor and know where the accounts are and what the monies are intended for.
Marriage takes an incredible amount of time, effort and commitment. If we want our relationships to be long and healthy, all aspects of it must be nurtured, including the not so romantic components. Continuous and honest communication about your finances is necessary to cultivate a fulfilling bond between you and your spouse.