“Money will be at the root of 90% of the arguments you’ll have once you’re married”. The only way to win a money battle with your spouse is to head it off at the pass. To avoid major money conflicts after you’re married, you must talk about money issues before the honeymoon. If you’re already married, plan a “honeymonish” evening to talk about money. Leave your kids with a baby sitter and go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. Take a pen and a pad of paper so you can record all the discussions you make while the two of you are in a harmonious mood. The calm, preferably prehoneymoon conversation should include:
1. How each of you handles money?
Many couples get married without knowing if their spouse is in debt, how many credit cards the significant other owns, and whether he/she can balance a checkbook. You must find out these details. One easy way is to exchange credit reports. If your spouse-to-be is overly reluctant to reveal his/her finances to you, let that be a sign!
2. Who will be the family’s chief financial officer?
Naming one person to be in charge of paying the bills works best. Then you’ll avoid those, “I thought you were paying the light bill” arguments. Just make sure the in-charge review the budget every month. Both should know where the money is going.
3. Whether you will have joint or separate bank accounts?
One advantage of joint account is they force you to talk often about money, usually several times a week, instead of waiting for a big blow-up or a once a month reckoning. Separate accounts may make you more suspicious about where your spouse’s money is going. Joint accounts are also a good idea if one spouse makes a lot more money than the other.
4. How you’ll deal with emergencies?
Plan to set aside 3 to 4 months worth of expenses in a savings account. This emergency account is extremely important. Whether you save the money shouldn’t be up for discussion – just discuss how you’ll do it. You’ll also need to write a will and buy disability insurance.
5. What your financial goals are?
Do you want to save for retirement (of course!), a yearly vacation, a college education, a new car? Create a budget that includes money for savings.
Money talks may not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but they sure beat money battles. Don’t let money turn your happy honeymoon into an ugly divorce.
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