The spirit of love is in the air this month and, notably, many relationships find themselves moving closer to the much-anticipated walk down the aisle with a recent engagement. According to Wedding Wire, about 40 percent of engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Not to steal Cupid’s thunder, but many couples will face the much-needed, and sometimes uncomfortable, money conversation in their near future.
Follow these money conversation ideas to avoid potential financial challenges that can affect the bliss of newlyweds.
Have the Money Conversation Up Front
A critical step in relationships (and importantly before marriage) is to have the money talk to ensure couples are aligned on financial circumstances that will impact their future life together. This conversation will help set the foundation for communication and trust with future finances.
- Identify milestones. While there are countless big expenses coming your way after an engagement, there are milestone situations to discuss as you become a married couple. Discussing short-term and long-term milestones such as housing, children, child care and lifelong dreams (and more!) will make sure you and your partner are on the same page with financial goals.
- Be open and honest. Having a significant money conversation can be difficult and embarrassing, however, it is noted that money has been at the center of countless arguments negatively affecting relationships. According to Investopedia, about a third of adult relationships report money as a significant source of conflict. Create a pre-wedding vow to have this critical conversation to ensure financial bliss long after the wedding bells ring.
- Set a day and time for the conversation. Make sure both partners are prepared for the conversation. Include the following topics in your discussion: debt, future goals, family changes, etc. Make note that financial situations constantly change as relationships and families change. Don’t forget to consider the impact of future job changes, health bills and children, so you can be prepared for those changes and how they might impact your family’s future finances.
Not sure how to ease into the conversation? Consider having both you and your partner take an online quiz to learn more about your money habits
How Will We Manage Money?
Not all relationships are the same, and neither are money solutions. There are several ways that financially successful couples manage their money.
- 50/50: Both partners contribute equal amounts of money into a shared account while keeping separate accounts for their remaining money.
- Completely separate: All money is, as you guessed it, completely separate. Payments are made to one another for expenses, similar to the good ‘ol days of having an amicable roommate.
- 100% together: Everything is shared and accessible in a joint account regardless of who makes what money. In this option, all expenses and savings come from a shared account.
Have the money conversation and create a plan that will work for your future marriage. Joint accounts or separate, determine an option that will work for you and get started. Consider developing a budget as a couple with tips in our recent blog post. And don’t fret, you can always adjust how you manage your money in the future if necessary.
How Will We Manage Debt?
Good, bad or ugly, you more than likely are already aware of each other’s spending habits. Debt, however, can affect relationships.
At times (and in moderation) debt can be powerful for your household finances. Discuss what you and your partner believe are appropriate limits to having debt in your relationship. Pay down your debt in order to build your credit.
Don’t leave lingering debt behind the scenes. Do you have school loans hiding in the background? Be sure to address outstanding debt in your money conversation and how you can combat it as a couple.
This might be a good time to identify ways that you can combine various accounts to cut expenses, including cellphone bills and gym memberships. Make sure any financial baggage is out on the table before getting hitched.
When Do I Need Permission to Make Purchases?
Sounds like a silly question but now that you’re getting financially committed to one another, it’s important to address when you’ll make purchasing decisions on your own and when you will confer with one another when you have your money conversation.
Avoid feeling like your partner is micromanaging your spending habits by being upfront about future purchases. Identify how purchases might impact your relationship and overall budget.
Consider setting a limit for purchase. If a purchase exceeds a certain amount, consult with your future spouse and discuss how the spend might impact future finances.
Let’s Get Dreaming
Not only are you likely dreaming of all things white, wedding bells and more, but think beyond the “big day.” Share your dreams and future goals with your soon-to-be life partner in your money conversation. Be happy and supportive by understanding each other’s vision for the future and how that can become something you strive for together.
Whether you find yourselves as spenders or savers (or somewhere in between), finding common ground in relationships is important. Talk about shared dreams and plan for long-term goals. Consider this an opportunity to discuss practical needs for your family, too, such as life insurance and retirement. Make sure you both understand each other’s philosophies on money.
The money conversation is a big step to conquer on your path to happily ever after. Identify a time to have “the talk.” Always be open and honest. And remember, in relationships there is always compromise. Embrace this as a time to make compromises together. (And planning a romantic date night for when you’re done with your money convo is a great reward for tackling a tricky topic.)
Struggling to get started with the money conversation? Set goals, gain confidence and stress less about finances with free information and support from Verve.