Marriage means merging your life completely with someone else’s, including your finances. Believe or not, the financial merger can turn into quite a challenge for newly married couples, especially when this is not among the most important issues they discuss when they start dating. But maybe it should be.
It may put a damper on romanticism, but open and upfront discussions about money in the early stages of your relationship can prevent the after-marriage shocks caused by your spouse’s different financial goals, bad spending habits, and the like.
To make sure you start your marriage on the right foot, check out these 10 financial mistakes newlyweds should avoid at all costs. Your welcome!
Not creating a long-term financial plan
You might be in love and eager to enjoy the marital bliss with your future spouse but if you want to enjoy it for years and years to come, you need to do something first: come up with a long-term financial plan. It might not be the most romantic thing out there, but it sure is practical. You’ll need to include your homeownership or plans to buy a house, start a family, saving, investment and retirement goals.
Therefore, before you tie the know, discuss these issues with your partner. Don’t exclude both of your budget, your incomes, your timeline for achieving your financial goals and everything in between.
Going in blind
Something else newlyweds usually do without thinking is walking into their marriage blindfolded. In other words, they don’t talk to their future spouse about their financial goals, debts, income, investments and so on.
Money should not be a taboo topic, especially between two people who are about to spend the rest (or most) of their lives together. If you can have the sex talk, surely you can also talk about finances.
It’s ok, if not recommended, to have an honest and open discussion about money even before you get engaged. You both need to know what the other person’s financial status is in terms of savings and debt, any delinquent debts, bankruptcies, and any other financial commitments. For some, it might turn into a make-or-break type of discussion, but instead of having it several years into your marriage and end up divorcing, it’s better to know where you both stand from the very beginning.
Lying to your spouse
Some might joke about buying shoes, clothes or fishing equipment without their partner knowing, but lying, whatever the reason, is most of the times, not a good idea. (Except for these 17 White Lies It’s Acceptable to Tell to Avoid Uncomfortable Situations).
“Financial secrets take an added toll due to the effect they have on a sense of both physical and emotional security,” explains clinical psychologist and author Dr. Carla Marie Manly. That’s why the best approach is to be honest and straightforward when it comes to your finances and financial situation. If something doesn’t seem quite right when you discuss money, you might want to seek counseling and solve the problem before you tie the knot.
Also, make sure you check out these 10 Money Mistakes That Might Ruin Your Relationship for Ever.
Merging finances before marriage
Your legal rights, even when it comes to money, depend on whether you are married or just living together. In most cases, the law gives you more rights if you’re married. For example, if you buy a house together with your spouse, you’ll both equal rights to it if you divorce. On the other hand, if you’re living together, purchase a house together and then break up, you might not get your invested money back. This is also valid when it comes to taking on your partner’s debt.
Bottom line? It’s better to get married first and then merge your finances, for both of your sakes. You might also find it useful to know that These 5 Money Issues Can Bring Trouble In ANY Relationship.
Using credit cards for the wedding or honeymoon
You might want to have a wonderful wedding or a luxurious honeymoon in an exotic place but getting into debt just when you’re about to start your life together as a couple, is not exactly the best way to have a happy marriage. You might have to give up some of your wedding ideas, but the alternative would be having to pay a lot more in debt, for months or even years after you got married. Speaking of which, check out these 11 Purchases You Should Never Make with a Credit Card.
If you want your wedding to be just the way you’ve dreamed of, but within your budget and without creating a lot of debt, you can look for deals and negotiate discounts in advance, including travel deals.
Refusing to create a budget
A budget is crucial to financial stability. Regardless of how much money you earn, if you don’t keep track and manage your spendings, you won’t be able to achieve financial success. It takes both of you to create a budget and stick to it.
It’s true that you both may have your separate financial priorities, which might not always be the same, but what matters if for both of you to compromise, create a budget you’re both comfortable with and work together towards the same goal. On that note, you might be interested in 15 Life-Changing Personal Finance Tips You Had No Idea About.
Keeping your money separate
Not combining your finances might be a good idea when your partner has serious problems such as gambling, overspending or compulsive shopping. In general, though, merging your finances, creating and working towards sticking to a budget together can help strengthen your relationship, financially but also emotionally.
This means everything should be out in the open, and there are no secret savings accounts, credit cards or the like. Talk about your goals, financial or otherwise, and about ways to achieve them, on a regular basis. If your partner still wants to keep their finances separate, they might want to hide something bigger.
Ignoring the red flags
Don’t ignore the warning signs! You might love your spouse to the moon and back, but that’s not a good enough reason to turn a blind eye to something that might affect your future.
For instance, don’t ignore things like overspending, reluctance to talk about money, or a bad credit score. Also, don’t forget that people can make mistakes. If your spouse has been putting all efforts into making up for and mending their past mistakes, you should give them some credit, all the while keeping an eye on things and being proactive.
Not working together as a team
Marriage is about becoming a team. To have a happy, successful marriage, you need to understand that you’re on the same both and embrace teamwork in every aspect of your life as a couple, including finances. This means no secret shopping session, no hiding savings account from your partner, no overspending from your mutual bank account and no unwillingness to work together toward your mutual financial goals.
One of you might be better with numbers and, therefore, in charge of paying the bills and managing the monthly budget but this doesn’t mean you should just stand by and watch. Both of you should get involved in discussing the budget, your income and spending and monitor your savings, checking, and investment accounts. After all, it takes two to tango and achieve the family financial goals.
The best moment to manage your debt is when you get married (for the first time). That’s because children are usually out of the picture at that point, and you also don’t have the financial stress of owning a home or your own business weighing you down. Generally, in the first years of marriage, you have more disposable income you can use to become debt-free, compared to ten years into your marriage, for example.
Once you manage to pay off your debt, you can start focusing on your next financial goal, like buying a new car or purchasing a bigger house. Ignoring debt at the very start of your marriage will only make it harder for both you and your spouse to meet your objectives.