The Newly Married Couple
Getting married is one of the biggest commitments two individuals can make. The funny part is there is no real handbook or guide to marriage except the advice from loved ones, spiritual advisors, and a few authors. No one ever thinks about getting a divorce before they actually get married. A couple approaches the alter full of love and with a sense of adventure. They are usually surrounded by family and friends and pledge to each other their undying devotion and a life long commitment to one another. As the new married couple begins “their new life” they will face good times and they will face tough times. Not only are they starting a new life together, but as a part of this new life together they are also starting a financial life together.
The Good Times and the Bad Times
Although you enter a marriage looking forward to the good times, the tough times can sometimes push a relationship to the breaking point. Unfortunately, the tough times in many instances will involve money. As a person who has seen his share of marriages, some good and some bad, the key factor in both types of marriages is communication. Communication about money is vital to a successful marriage. When two individuals are on the same page both parties should have some idea on how each one feels. For a couple getting married one of the most stressful items a new couple can face deals with finances. This is why I believe it is important for a couple to sit down and have a honest and frank conversation about their financial situation.
Let’s Make a Plan
Making a plan can sometimes help you see any potential problems and give you a roadmap of where you are and where you are going. Smart decisions today can alleviate any potential stress and heartache a couple may face in the future. Money can put a great strain on any relationship and for many couples this strain can lead to devastating consequences. Here are some questions a couple should ask each other before they get married: (you should write these answers down and have some sort of written plan)
1. How is our current financial situation?
a. How much credit card debt do we owe?
b. How much student loan debt do we owe, and will there be more?
c. What is our current monthly car payment, and for how long will this continue?
d. How much do we have in savings?
e. How much are we going to spend on a wedding?
2. Should we rent or should we buy a home?
a. Can we stand living with your parents or my parents if times got tough?
3. Where do we see ourselves financially in 1 year , 5 years, 10 years, etc?
a. Do we have a financial planner?
b. Do we have a Roth Ira, 401K, Pension fund?
4. Do we plan on having kids?
a. How many would we like to have?
b. Should we adopt?
c. Is someone staying home or are we sending them to daycare?
d. Should we start a college fund as soon as they are born?
e. How will kids affect our long-term financial goals?
5. How do we plan on establishing our bank accounts?
a. Will we establish a joint bank account?
b. Will we keep our own individual accounts?
c. Will we have a combination of both?
Each of these questions and subparts if answered honestly can be scary for many new couples and even for some who have been married for years. However, I feel these are questions that MUST BE discussed before or shortly after marriage. No matter if you are a couple thinking about getting married, a newly married couple or a veteran of marriage these questions, if answered honestly and free from pressure from one spouse or family, can assist in a long and healthy marriage.