Talk About Finances Before You Say “I Do”

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Do you know someone that is about to get engaged or married? Have they discussed their financial beliefs? Of course religious and political views are important when entering into a long term relationship, but for some reason financial beliefs are often overlooked. We might get the feeling that our partner is frivolous with money, but we just assume that once you get married that all of your financial decisions will be discussed and agreed upon together. Or, perhaps you decide not to worry about the differences in financial beliefs because you plan on keeping your accounts separate – but what happens when you near retirement and your spouse has nothing saved? Are you going to say, “Tough luck, have fun eating spam for the next 20 years”?

A Few Personal Stories

I have a friend that completely impressed me in his most recent relationship. He and his long time girlfriend were very compatible in almost every way, but he was brought up in a saver household and she was very much involved in a family of spenders. While she said all the right things when it came to money beliefs, she suddenly went out an bought a brand new car on payments, which was a cost well beyond what my friend considered reasonable. This was not the first time that she was financially irresponsible, so my friend called it quits. If they could not agree on spending now, then they obviously wouldn’t be able to make it work in the future.

I wish I was half as smart as my friend in this category. Unfortunately, I was blinded by love, assuming that everything would work out for the better in the end. Let’s just make a long story short say it didn’t. My finances suffered during the relationship and they were even impacted after it died due to the divorce agreement. I would have done myself a huge favor had I just stepped back and evaluated the financial differences between my significant other and myself.

Evaluate Your Differences

Before you enter that long-term relationship it might be wise to think a little more deeply about the areas below:

1) Delayed Gratification – Do you and your special someone delay your gratification? In other words, you might have something that you want to buy (like a new TV). When you start thinking about this new product, do you or your friend (we’ll just keep saying friend…it’s easier that way) want to head out immediately and buy it? Or, do you start to plan how to get the best deal on this product and wait until you actually need it?

Piggy bank2) Saving – An easy way to decipher whether or not you or your friend are savers is to check your bank accounts. How much money do you have? If each of you have over $5,000 in your accounts, then it’s pretty safe to say that you’re both savers. If neither of you can find a comma, then I would say that you’re both savers.

3) Is Stuff Important? – Do you have a lot of stuff? Do you value it greatly? What about your friend? If one of you is all about keeping up with the Joneses and the other is not, then you are most likely on the path to serious problems.

4) Budgeting – This is often a swear word in many people’s mind, but it is incredibly important in relationship. If both of you can agree on a budget, then money fights shouldn’t really happen. If the budget didn’t have a new TV in there, then it’s pretty simple, you shouldn’t buy that new TV. If you can budget together, then life should be much more simple.

5) Long-Term Goals – If one of you wants to put $300 a month away for retirement and the other wants to put nothing away (but yet, still has dreams of living in that house on the lake), then things will be pretty tense in your house. Both of you should be realistic in your long-term goals, and you should also make logical financial decisions today in order to achieve them.

What are your thoughts about finances and relationships? I would love to hear them!

 

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Money

Derek

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.

8 Comments

  1. Oh yeah… I see this all the time among my friends and their spouses. Seems like there is always “the spender” and “the saver” in the relationship.

    For me, it’s all about communication and a solid agreed upon monthly zero-sum budget.

    Or you could be like my buddy who gives his stay-at-home wife $200 a month for EVERYTHING. This guy makes over 100K! His wife has to have her mom kick on money after the $200 runs out. Yeeeah, his wife is not too happy. What a douche!

    • Lol. How much does your buddy allow himself to spend out of their budget? If he spend $20, but is giving his wife $200, then I don’t think that’s too crazy. What types of things does she need to buy? Is this supposed to cover groceries, clothes, outings, etc???

      • He’s super cheap (not thrifty)…he doesn’t spend much. That’s $200 for groceries, clothes, outings, and diapers/baby stuff (1 year old). That’s nuts!

        Man, I don’t know about you, but when we’re stocking up for the week, we will easily spend $100 just in food.
        Scott @ HomeBuyer Nation recently posted..Why Barbara Corcoran is Wrong: Worst Ever First-time Home Buyer Tip

        • Yikes. Yeah, that’s definitely not enough. When I was married, I allotted $400 a month for food, and that was just for the two of us! Many times we would spend closer to $425 or $450.

  2. This is why I think people should live together for at least 6 months before tying the knot. You really get to know the spending habits of the other when you live together. I knew my wife was frugal after going out with her for a while, but we still lived together for nearly a year before getting married. All our funds are now commingled and we talk, even if only in passing, if we want to buy something that’s more than $100 (excluding groceries).
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Your Asset Allocation Is the Most Important Aspect of Your Portfolio

    • I was never for people living together in the past, but you really should make a point to get to know each other better than what we typically do today. At the very least, you should discuss and review each other’s financial habits before getting married, even though it might be a bit awkward at first.

  3. Yep, when it comes to relationships, actions speak louder than words. So even though you might have a money talk and think you’re on the same page, keep a sharp eye out for the warning signs.

    Knowing what divorce can do to your finances, it’s also prudent to get a prenuptial agreement as well. Like good drives still get car insurance, good couples still should get a prenup. It’s your marriage insurance for when things go completely irrational.

    Having recently gotten married, I shared more of my thoughts on how to get married without going broke on my blog if you’re curious.
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted..Great Enwealthen Anniversary Giveaway 2013

    • I’ve been through a divorce and didn’t have a prenup, but I still don’t think I will push it for the next marriage (assuming there might be another one). Money isn’t everything, and if I really know who I’m getting involved with, then they won’t want to take me to the cleaners anyway. Does that still sound naive to you?


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