Money. Right now, it is the last thing on your mind. You are in love. You have found the one. And you are ready to say “I do.”
Without question, these are exciting times for you and your fiancé. Each day, you seem to learn more and more about the one you are marrying. The conversations go deeper than before. You are no longer talking about “me” or “you.” You are talking about “us.”
And while the conversations often take many thrilling turns, the topic of money is often left out. Why ruin the mood?
Unfortunately, the lack of financial communication before marriage can lead to financial stress during marriage. So let’s consider how you can create a financially stressful marriage before you even say “I do.”
1. Avoid talking about money with your fiancé.
Whether you want it to or not, money will be a big part of your future marriage. Money will guide many of your decisions. Consider all the decisions that money will infiltrate—the city where you live, the house that you buy, the car that you drive. And there are many, many more.
Postponing conversation about money is a great way to get caught off guard during your first few years of marriage. Avoiding money talks before marriage often leads money arguments in your marriage. Right now is a great time to start discussing and working through money issues with your fiancé.
2. Don’t consider what it means to bring your finances together.
Right now, you have your account and your fiancé has his or her account. You can spend or save as you please. You are not concerned what is in your fiancé’s account and they are not concerned what is in your account.
When you get married, everything changes. Your spending or saving impacts your fiancé. “My” account becomes “our” account. It is “our” financial picture. They will care about the money decision you make, and you will care about their money decisions. Couples who are not on the same page regarding what uniting finances can experience significant tension in their future marriage.
When you get married, everything changes. Your spending or saving impacts your fiancé. “My” account becomes “our” account. It is “our” financial picture.
3. Assume your fiancé‘s perspective on money is the same as yours.
We all have our own experiences with money. Growing up, you may have never had to worry whether or not the bills would get paid. But your fiancé watched as his or her parents struggled to simply pay the electric bill. These experiences were a part of shaping you and your fiancé’s money personality.
Are you a Spender, Saver, Investor, or Ignorer? What about your fiancé? Every money personality has its strength and weaknesses. Most married couples have differing money personalities. Knowing your fiancé’s money personality can create empathy. Not knowing your fiancé’s money personality can create stress and frustration.
4. Don’t concern yourself with your fiancé’s financial situation (and don’t tell your fiancé about your financial situation).
If you have credit card debt, you are likely to average about $15,000 of it. If you recently graduated from college, you probably have about $37,000 in student loan debt. And you probably don’t have much saved yet. Ready for some more encouragement? Your fiancé is probably in a similar financial situation.
Dropping the financial bombs after marriage can lead to frustration and distrust. The best thing you can do it discuss your financial situation prior to marriage. This way, you won’t feel mislead, and your future spouse won’t feel duped.
5. Don’t consider your current financial picture when planning the wedding and honeymoon.
The expectation of what a wedding should look like has dramatically escalated. And so has the cost. Honeymoons are a great way to celebrate a marriage, but they can quickly become very expensive and the financial consequences can last years beyond the vacation.
Planning and wedding and honeymoon without regard for your current financial picture can start your marriage in a financial hole. You can spend the first few years of your marriage struggling to dig yourself out of debt created by just a few weeks of spending.
Grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and have a conversation about money with your future spouse. Consider what it means to bring your finances together. Seek to understand their perspective on money. Share your financial situation and learn about theirs. And make sure you moment of celebration doesn’t lead to years of debt.
Reduce future financial stress by discussing money with your fiancé today.
This article was originally written for Relevant Magazine.