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Before You Say I Do

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Your wedding is supposed to mark the moment two people launch the rest of their lives as a team.

Careers, housing, finances, family, religion, even what to cook for dinner: every decision that the couple makes, from their wedding day forward, they make together … at least that’s how the story goes.

But marriage can be … well, romanticized. Many couples disagree on the big stuff: Should we live in Denver or Manhattan? Should we have one child or four?

And of course, almost every couple will disagree about money. One partner might be a spender while the other is a saver. One might prefer risky investments while the other prefers Treasury bonds.

Even if both are cut from the same cloth – let’s say they’re both risk-averse savers — they might have different comfort thresholds. She wants an emergency fund that represents 6 months of their income, while he thinks an emergency fund of $2,000 is good enough.

Here are a few financial conversations couples should have before tying the knot:

1. Talk About Dreams and Goals in Life.

Money is simply a tool to get to your dreams, so the backbone to most money conversations is sharing dreams and goals.

Let’s assume a scenario in which she wants to create a stream of passive income by age 45, while he wants to send their kids to the city’s best private school.

At first, the couple won’t think they have a money problem – after all, they’re both saving and living frugally.

But when Junior turns 5 and it’s time to enroll him at OverAchievers Prep Academy, they’ll see that their frugality was geared towards different goals at different timelines.

Iron out these life goals with your partner by discussing the goals, writing them down, tracking your savings towards them, and re-visiting the goals once a year.

2. Talk about Thresholds

Most people have what I call a “money threshold” after which they start feeling antsy about their finances.

Spenders might have a “maximum debt” threshold. As long as the balance on their credit card is less than $2,000, they feel okay. Once it crosses that $2,000 mark, they start feeling antsy.
For savers, it might be a “minimum savings” threshold. Once their emergency fund dips below $5,000, they get nervous.

Most people aren’t consciously aware of their comfort thresholds. Identify what thresholds you have, and discuss it with your partner.

3. Agree on Life Plans

If a major, life-altering decision is in discord, couples will disagree on every detail that’s affected. Let’s say he wants to stay in Denver, where they both grew up, but she wants to move to Manhattan. Do they buy a home in Denver? Or do they keep renting, in case they move across the country?

Let’s say she only wants one child and he wants four. Should they buy a larger home than they currently need, in case their family grows? Or should they buy a townhouse in case their family stays small?

It might seem like the couple is disagreeing about real estate, but the crux of the matter is that they disagree about their life direction. Solve that first, and the money will follow.

This Guest Post was written by Paula Pant at AffordAnything.org, the website that shows you how to afford … well … anything! 

Money

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

24 Comments

  1. I found this post somewhat amusing. When my wife and I were engaged, I wanted 2 kids and she wanted 4. We ended up with 6. Not exactly the definition of compromise, but life will throw you a curve once in a while.

      • Haha, I wanted two and she didn’t want any kid. We ended with with 1. 🙂

        • 1 is better than none! That’s the highest number I’ve gotten my wife up to so far. I think 2 is a good number.

      • I’d say that it worked out! Good comprimise too!

        • Haha, thankfully, my future wife and I both want the same number. We got lucky. I think it is so important to discuss the everyday things in life. Marriage IS romanticized — and the wedding day is only one day out of many years. It is easy to get married, much harder to stay married and be committed during those not-so-pleasant times. “Love is as much a matter of the will as it is of the emotion.” – Ravi Zacharias

          • That’s nice that you both want the same number of kids! Just keep talking things through even after you’re married and you’ll have a wonderful, meaningful relationship together. Exciting! 🙂

    • You wanted 2 and she wanted 4, so now she got her 2 and you got your 4, which in total makes 6. Wow! Congrats on a big family….

  2. These are excellent tips. However, my husband and I never discussed any of these things until a few years into our marriage! The threshold of comfort is really important; I didn’t know mine until I felt anxious about our debt and non-existent savings, then we started working out our finances thankfully.

    • You’re lucky your husband was willing to listen. I’ve heard of quite a few cases where the spender just keeps on spending! And, of course, the relationship didn’t last long…

  3. I got really lucky with this one! My wife and I were not completely in agreement on #3 when we first got married, but I actually asked her the vision of our future together, and somehow, we now have the same idea of what we want! Whew, lucky lucky. 🙂

  4. These are some great tips – I think the best one is about goals. IT’s difficult to find common ground if you dont share your goals and what you really want out of life.

    • Very true Jeff! Without common goals, you’re really just two single people living in the same house!

  5. It’s amazing how these life factors can take a toll both positively and negatively on a relationship. They say opposites attract and I say they never stay together. It’s important to be with someone that you share the same life goals…. Great article.

    • It’s a good thing that I got lucky and found someone that has a similar vision of our future! I’m not even really sure we discussed it before we got married either!

  6. Great article Derek!

    My girlfriend and I were actually talking about our goals and future plans this past weekend, she also liked your article too after I sent it to her. We are working on a list of our separate goals now and are going to compare them once they are done

    • It is so important to make sure you’re heading in the same direction before getting married! I’m glad you’re taking the time to talk this through with your girlfriend now rather than waiting until it becomes a problem. Good luck!

  7. Derek,

    I can’t even get a date let alone start planning for a wedding. haha, just kidding. Jokes aside though getting married is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make and something you definitely want to plan well ahead for!

    • Haha! I bet.

      You’re right! Getting married is a huge step, and it’s something that you should talk through very carefully! Thanks for the comment!

  8. Life doesn’t always go according to plans, you just have to roll with it and do the best you can.

    • @Tracy

      It is true that life can take some unexpected turns, but that doesn’t mean we should just blow along with the wind. If I had visions of building businesses around the world and my wife wanted a man that would never leave the house, there would definitely be a problem! We should always plan for our future and make sure our paths don’t hit a fork in the road.

  9. I love the notion of the threshold–such vital information to share before getting married! This idea can extend further into household management/family dynamics thresholds as well. After all, if you fail to plan, don’t you plan to fail?

    • If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! Yep, I agree 100%, and marriage is tough! If you don’t have any sort of plan going in, you’re going to run into some rocky patches. Thanks for the comment!


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