Money Talks…To Have Before Marriage!

October 28th, 2009

Want to save your marriage before it starts? Talk about money! While money isn’t the most romantic subject matter around, crucial to marital success is to shed light on financial differences before you begin as a “we.” Chances are highly unlikely that you are about to marry your financial match – few couples are well-matched when it comes t tto the balance between saving and spending styles. The good news is that marital success is only partly attributable to compatibility. The secret is in how you’ll manage the dollar differences!

Here are a few crucial conversations to have to get you started down the aisle on the right foot:

FAMILY HISTORY: Look back at your own personal experiences around the old mighty dollar. How did your parents manage money? How did their money styles affect you? What are your earliest memories of how money discussions or fights in the home? Did Mom hide purchases from Dad? Did Dad make all the money decisions? Be prepared for some tender and often emotional, tearful discussions. (Money is so emotional – too often we forget that!) Get all the dirty money secrets out on the table so they have no power over what you intentionally, consciously want to create as a new team.

CREDIT SCORES: Talk about getting naked! Your credit history holds a chunk of your permanent financial record. Complete disclosure is useful for two reasons: One, it provides a great starting point for discussing what you’ve learned (or still need to learn) about managing money. Two, it’s better to know as early as possible about errors or low credit scores so you can improve these powerful numbers prior to applying for a home loan.

DECISION-MAKING: In a relationship, money is control. Discuss who will pay the bills; who will make money decisions; who will decide the family budget? Make a commitment to regularly sit down together so that the partner writing the checks can keep the other one up to speed, If one of you has done all the time-consuming research on a new car or children’s school, does that authorize them to make that final decision for the family?

MONEY DIRECTION: Just how much money do you individually and collectively want to accrue? Are your career paths pulling you apart or bringing you together? What is your desired level of affluence and what are you willing to do to get there? Are you willing to be a single parent while your money-earning spouse works 80 hours a week to reach your financial destination? Or, would you rather have less in savings in order to have more time together?

These are just a few of those “little” things that don’t come up while looking dreamily and deep into one another’s eyes during the dating process. (Just be sure you look as equally as hard at each other’s portfolio!)

Weigh in: How important do you think financial counseling is to marriage? Have you gone through a divorce due to differences in money management? How easy or difficult are dollar-dialogues in your current relationship?