The talk about money
Financial incompatibility can be one of the major challenges in making your marriage successful. Avoiding the conversation will not make it better, and is likely to make it worse.
So, do not set yourself up for failure soon after you say “I do” by bringing either bad money habits or unrealistic financial expectations into your marriage or fail to come up with a plan to merge your financial lives, you could potentially doom your relationship to money trouble — and endless arguments. Not exactly “happily ever after.”
However, nothing will say “I love you” more than the desire to start your marriage on the right financial foundation. Here is what you need to discuss.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Do you want to go back to school, start your own business? Do you want children? If so, how many children and when? Will both of you continue working, or would one spouse want to stay? Discussing your hopes and dreams together will help you set priorities and make realistic plans.
What is your net worth?
Before you can create an effective plan, you need to know where each of you is now. To determine your net worth, you must both be able to identify all your assets and liabilities. Once you know where you are, it’s much easier to understand what is possible and what you should do.
Should you keep your finances separate or combine them?
Yours, mine and ours? Find a system that works for you. Make sure you consider your individual money styles. If you are a saver and your partner is a spender you might find managing a single joint account too stressful and opt for separate accounts entirely. Whether or not you choose to combine your investment accounts, it’s important to view your portfolios as a whole to ensure that your overall portfolio is properly allocated. Your financial advisor should be able to help with this.
How will you handle daily spending decisions?
Two can’t live as cheaply as one – but it doesn’t cost twice as much. One of the first tasks newlyweds should tackle is creating a spending plan. Sit down together and plot out how much you expect to spend on groceries, clothes, eating out and other household expenses.
Who will be responsible for paying the bills and preparing the taxes?
The partner who is better at finances, not the one who earns more, should look after the bills and taxes. However, no matter handles the finances, make sure that every month you to go over the budget, review your plans and progress and agree on upcoming expenses, such as major purchases.
Paying your bills online is a great way to reduce the burden of this task. And you should consider using software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money to organize and track your finances.
What is your tolerance for risk?
Many of life’s most important decisions involve understanding and managing risks. From your career choices to investment approach, it will be important to understand where you both stand with respect to taking risks.
Lashley Financial can help you determine your risk tolerance to appreciate the compromise that may be necessary for your financial strategies.
What are your insurance options?
Adding a spouse to your health insurance may be cheaper than maintaining separate plans – but getting health insurance if that person loses their coverage may be more difficult. What about life insurance? Do you have? Enough? If you already have some, either privately or through an employer, do you need to change your beneficiary information? Consider your specific insurance needs and look at the costs and benefits of each option.
How will you deal with existing debt?
Make a plan to pay off your debts. Start with the balances that carry the highest interest rates. Find out what it will take to pay off your balances. You may choose to work individually or together to pay off debts you accrued before the wedding.
Having a trusted financial advisor to sit with you through this discussion – or after you have had the initial meeting with your partner could pay significant long term dividends in terms of your finances and your quality of life in marriage.