There are many challenges to consider when it comes to taking a big step like marriage; conflicting money philosophies can wreak havoc on a relationship.
You don’t need be money twins about financial matters, just hold similar core values. If the relationship with money varies dramatically from your beau’s, you can rest assured conflict will eventually tarnish the bliss.
You may scoff at these overtures; some may appear radical. However, before the rings, discuss the strings. Money strings are the beginning of good or bad threads you’re going to bring to a marriage tapestry.
Here are a few money smart steps to consider:
1). In Lieu of a Wedding Throw a Debt-Relief Gathering – How romantic to slay one of the financial beasts of a successful long-term commitment. Forgo a wedding reception – throw a party for a quarter of the expense. On average U.S. couples spend more than $25,000 on a wedding. If you’re saddled with revolving debt like auto loans and credit cards, then it may be best to use gifts to pay them off or pay down debt dramatically. Throw a nifty party and focus monetary gifts on debt.
Create a written promise to each other that out-of-control debt monsters shall never arise from the dead.
2). Create a Personalized Series of Make-or-Break Rules – If you’re serious, well then either the matrimony activities continue, are postponed or cease entirely based on jointly-held money rules.
Be specific when you create them. Here are examples:
If our individual credit scores are less than 700 (based on Fair Isaacs) then marriage needs to be postponed until scores are at least at or above the national average of 723. Marginal credit scores can mean more interest paid on loans including mortgage alternatives. Examine and follow steps to increase your scores on www.myfico.com and re-visit this commitment in six months.
I shall provide proof of my good money habits before the marriage commitment is made. Get ready for money vulnerability – break out your budget history, open the Quicken, outwardly show that you’re taking health care insurance and disability coverage at work. Divulge your liabilities (of the financial kind). Too much debt, lack of insurance and absence of discipline may encourage you to reconsider a marriage at this time.
If individual monthly debts are greater than 25% of our gross monthly incomes, then marriage needs to be postponed until debts fall below set thresholds. I know. I’m taking all the heart out of this, and that’s exactly the point.
As a famous Godfather once lamented: “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”
3). Write out your Personal Money Philosophy and Share it with your Future Partner – If you’ve never formally considered a money philosophy it’s an opportune time to think it through. And you do have one; your money DNA has been with you since youth. It was formed by your parents, friends, and other outside influences. Share the details of this exercise with your partner, yet work on this project alone.
The end result is a couple of sentences that spell out sincere reflection about your ongoing relationship with money.
Here are a few shared with me:
“I’ve been afraid of debt for a long time and feel compelled to pay off debts quickly. My parents taught me to not dig a hole I can’t climb out of and I’ve always been that way.”
“I always make sure to have money in an emergency fund.?
“I try to save at least 5% of my salary in my 401K.”
These statements don’t need to be pretty, they need to be real and reflect values about finances.
Consider fun yet money awareness exercises with your financial partners like the card “game” available at www.moneyhabitudes.com. What an eye-opener when it comes to disclosing and understanding couples’ money personalities.
4). Consider Money Vows at the Wedding – Really want to shake things up? How about a money promise as a tie that binds? I’m not kidding! Here are examples from couples who incorporated money messages in their vows:
“I promise to never make a big purchase without you.”
“I promise to never hide a financial mistake from you.”
“I hope for mutual respect and open communication if money issues arise in our marriage.”
Well, you get the point.
It all seems romantic to me, but then I’m a money guy.
What rules and tips can you create today around a successful money and marriage partnership?