Not seeing eye to eye on financial situations can lead to major strain on a relationship. And, unfortunately, studies have shown that disagreements about money can be a leading cause of divorce. One study, in fact, showed that couples who said they had money disagreements once a week were approximately 30 percent more likely to file for a divorce than couples who only had these types of disagreements a few times a month. So if you and that special someone in your life are seriously considering marriage, it's important that you be on the same page as much as possible about your savings and spending styles before you tie the knot.
It's About the Money, Honey
While it may seem terribly unromantic, it is very important to sit down with your fiancé and discuss your:
- Spending and saving behaviors. Problems often arise if one person in a relationship has a tendency to purchase items on the spur of the moment without informing the other party. Problems can also arise if one party is extremely tight and questions the other one on every expenditure.
- Long-term goals for purchasing big-ticket items. If buying a house down the road is important for one, but not the other party, saving up for a home can become difficult.
- Strategy for paying future bills. How will you divide household bills? Equally? A percentage based on what each person makes? Or will you each take care of certain bills?
- Debts. It's important that both parties are aware of the debt each brings into the relationship. Talk frankly about your credit card and loan debts. You need to know, for example, if your fiancé has a large college loan that you were unaware of that could seriously affect your financial future for a number of years.
- Accounts. Will you be maintaining separate bank and credit card accounts, or will you be blending all of your finances?
Seek a Financial Guru
If after your discussion, you discover that the two of you have vastly differing spending and saving habits, you may want to consider seeking outside help. Financial counseling can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and your future marriage. A financial counselor from a company like Financial Guidance Center can help you and your future spouse to:
- Discover why you have those spending and savings habits. Severe overspending or underspending could be a sign of a money disorder. A financial counselor could help you and your future spouse come to an understanding about what triggers spending or money hoarding and guide the two of you toward a healthier relationship with your money.
- Help you work out a budget. By discussing your goals and desires for the future with a counselor at a financial guidance center, you can create a budget that will incorporate things that are important for both you and your spouse.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
For some couples, the words "prenuptial agreement" can be fighting words. But before you and your fiancé totally nix the idea of having such an agreement, you may want to consider the benefits of one and whether or not it might be beneficial in your situation. For example, you may want to consider a prenup if you have:
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate holdings
- Children from another marriage
Discussions about money are never easy. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 70 percent of adults said they would not have a positive feeling about discussing finances with their fiancé. Even worse, 20 percent of those surveyed said that such a discussion might even lead to the breaking off of their engagement. It's very unfortunate that so many look at the discussions of finances in such a negative light, especially since a frank talk about money issues before a marriage could possibly lead to a stronger and healthier relationship.