So, you found the perfect guy. He’s the One. He treats you well, is loyal, and also has the same goals in life as you do. He popped the question and you said yes. It’s official, you’re getting hitched. Mazel Tov!
Right now, you’re probably thinking of wedding bells and catering menus. While most people get swept up into the romance of a fairytale wedding where the bride’s princess for a day, few people tend to remember that marriage is more than just a big ceremony.
It’s also a massive economic partnership that has lasting implications on your bank account. To make your marriage work, you have to have a good plan on how you want to merge your finances. Here’s what experts would suggest…
Have a prenup.
Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for millionaires. They are a must for anyone who could be put in a precarious position if a divorce happens. Prenups delineate what are the rules of your marriage, what items will go to you in the event of a divorce, as well as any particular stipulations that you want to include.
A prenup can be updated every couple of years to refect you and your partner’s economic growth, as well as any major life changes you might happen during the course of your marriage. Prenups help limit legal fees in divorce court, and also take the guesswork out of divvying up everytihng.
If your relationship recently took a hit, consider getting a post-nup.
Post-nuptial agreements are like pre-nups, but are added after major life changes in a marriage. Like prenups, they delineate what goes where in the event of a tragedy or in the event of a divorce. If you have a lot of assets, it’s worth it.
Do a full once-over regarding you and your spouse’s financial situations.
You should never get married without knowing your future spouse’s personal financial situation. Things like debt, a bad credit score, or even bad spending habits can make a life-changing difference in your future.
Once you both get a better understanding of spending styles, you can make decisions regarding how you’re going to handle the finances, including:
- Do you want a joint account? This isn’t wise for people with spending issues, but it could be a good way for two responsible adults to work the day-to-day finances.
- How much home can you afford? If you’re moving in together, this is something you need to discuss.
- How do you want to split the bills? If you’re going to have a stay-at-home spouse, who will be the breadwinner? If you both split the bills, how will you divvy it up? What happens if one of you gets a raise?
- Should you get certain loans or cards in one person’s name only? This might be the best way to maximize your spending power.
Have emergency separation accounts.
Let’s say things don’t work out, and shit hits the fan. Having a secret account you can withdraw money from will allow you to move out immediately without seeing a financial dent. Though no one wants this to happen, it’s best to plan for the worst just in case.
Consider talking to a financial planner before tying the knot.
Most people think that a financial planner is just for retirement purposes, but that’s not true. Financial planners can also give valuable insight when it comes to merging finances and keeping track of where money will go.
Financial planners can help set you up with a finance system that works with your spending habits, future children, as well as personal goals. Give one a call. You might be shocked at what you might learn.
Go to some financial literacy classes.
Sometimes, good people have bad spending habits simply because they don’t know any better. It happens more than you think, often thanks to the fact that schools don’t ever teach personal finance before you need it.
If you are concerned about your partner’s spending habits or want to use your marriage as a clean slate, now would be the time to learn about financial literacy. Most communities offer free tutoring in:
- Tax Prep. Most public libraries will have one or two classes every year on the topic.
- Small Business. SCORE is a great choice for people who want to have their own business as a married couple.
- Credit Repair. Many public libraries (and online programs) offer advice on credit repair, credit score increases, and similar work.
- Debt Reduction. Debt reduction classes are great if you don’t know where to start.
Be honest and open with your partner.
Finances can be embarrassing. Having the money talk can be tough, especially among proud people. By insisting on honesty and keeping judgment to a minimum, you will make it possible to have tough conversations without shame.
Honesty is an absolute must when it comes to the money talk. If you feel your partner could be hiding something, you probably shouldn’t marry them.
Acknowledge your money differences, but stick to rules.
It takes different strokes for different folks, and truth be told, you can’t expect people to conform to a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s okay to see your partner have slightly different spending habits than you. In fact, it’s to be expected.
However, you still need to have rules to abide by if you want to make your finances work. In order for the budget to work, both parties will have to follow the rules. If you can’t, it may be better to keep your finances separate.
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