By: Charlestien Harris
I know that the most popular month in which to get married is June, but why not get a head start by planning your finances while you plan that glorious occasion – the wedding?
Getting started early on financial planning with your future mate is exactly the kind of money move that will likely save you some heartache down the road. Money is one of the main causes of divorce among married couples, according to several research studies conducted in the United States. However, it doesn’t have to be for those couples who sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk about how both of you will handle your finances after marriage.
Here are a few suggestions on having that sometimes dreaded conversation about money in marriage and how to approach the subject.
1. Discuss your current way of handling money.
If you’re committed to a relationship, you and your partner owe each other a calm, honest conversation about each other’s finances, habits, goals, and worries about money. Knowing how each of you handles money before marriage can help you understand how both of you feel about your money management skills. Marriage is all about compromise. If one of you has more expensive taste and the other has less expensive taste, then you need to have a conversation about both types of spending habits.
2. Don’t let salary differences pull you apart.
After all, you are coming together to form a union of two households into one. With the way pay scales are set today, one of you is bound to make more money than the other. Sometimes the spouse bringing in the most money can feel entitled to the most say. Now is the time to sit down and discuss or create a plan that will allow both of you to have input into the household spending plan together. No matter how much (or little) one partner makes, both of you should feel like you have equal involvement and control over your finances.
3. Have a meaningful discussion about your credit.
When you apply for a loan as a married couple, banks assess both of your credit scores. If one person is carrying significant debt, your application could be denied. You should always be aware of both of your credit scores and get a copy of your credit report regularly. Credit scores are tracked individually, but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect both of you, especially if you plan to make a few large purchases during the marriage. When it comes to making those joint purchases like a house or a car, one person’s credit score can raise your interest rate or ruin your chances of getting approved altogether. You can get a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.
4. Living on a budget is an essential step.
No one likes to hear the word “budget,” especially from their partner. But there’s no getting around the importance of a household budget. Personally, I prefer to use the term “spending plan” because it doesn’t sound as harsh as the word “budget” and it doesn’t make a person feel like they are in money prison. As hard as it may seem, it’s critical to have a complete understanding of your financial situation. Creating a spending plan that has input from both of you can often eliminate tensions that can arise when unplanned purchases are made by one or both of you. You can find budgeting tools on our website at www.southernpartners.org/learning-center/.
5. It’s okay to ask for help.
Most couples don’t have someone who specializes in personal finance as part of their marital plan. But you should consider it because it always helps to have a financial expert take a closer look at your situation. You might benefit from tax advice, business planning, insurance, or insight into your personal finances. And as a couple, it can be nice to have a third party assist your planning efforts and maybe provide you with some tools to help you make those important financial decisions that will have to be made at some point in the marital relationship. Southern Bancorp has financial counselors on staff and would be glad to assist you. You should call your nearest branch to find out how to connect with one of us.
Money and marriage can be touchy subjects if you let them, but they don’t have to be. With just a little pre-planning and some meaningful conversation between the two of you, the money talk doesn’t have to be difficult at all.
Financial considerations before marriage are an important topic to discuss, especially if you want to avoid possibly becoming a statistic when it comes to the divorce rate. Having a positive attitude and an open mind can certainly make a difference when it comes to discussing money issues in a successful marriage.
If you need additional information on this or other financial topics, you can contact me at Charlestien.Harris@banksouthern.com or call me at 662-624-5776.
Until next week – stay financially fit!