Susan Friedland, Communications and Marketing, Shapiro Financial Security Group, Inc.
April 26, 2018
It’s wedding season. Or moving in together season. It’s exciting and scary and hopefully will be one of the best things that will happen in your life.
You have spent hours talking about your childhoods, your jobs, your dreams for the future, your wedding and decorating plans. But have you spent time talking about your finances? Your attitudes toward money may decide whether your marriage or relationship will last.
A poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that “68 percent of engaged couples surveyed held a negative attitude about discussing money with their fiancé. Forty five percent said they thought discussing money with their fiancé would be a “necessary but awkward conversation,” while 7 percent said it was “likely to lead to a fight,” so they would “avoid” the topic. Eleven percent said talking finances would reveal financial issues they weren’t aware of, and 5 percent said they thought it would cause them to call off the wedding.”[i]
A Kansas State University study found that couples take longer to recover from money arguments and these financial-based arguments are more intense than any other kind of argument. Couples often use harsher language with each other during money arguments and they also tend to last longer. The study found that continued financial arguments decrease a couples’ relationship satisfaction across all areas of their lives, endangering their relationship.[ii]
Let’s look at some ways of avoiding that fate:
- Have ‘The Talk’ as early as possible, preferably before marriage or moving in together. If you are ready to spend the rest of your life together (or even just a good portion of it), talking about finances should be an area that you are also comfortable discussing. Be open and honest - lay it all on the table, so to speak. Talk about:
- Your hopes and dreams – individually and as a couple.
- Your income.
- Your debts.
- Your financial responsibilities outside of the relationship such as caring for a parent, child support or alimony.
- What are your attitudes towards saving versus spending?
- What are your attitudes towards taking financial risks?
- Write down your goals. Determine your long-term goals and based on them, set some short-term goals that you both agree upon. Talk about how you, as a couple and as individuals, are going to meet them.
- Talk about money management within your household.
- How you will allocate your money – will you maintain separate bank accounts, have a joint account or both?
- Will the bills be split evenly or is one of you earning more and therefore paying more?
- Who will be paying the bills?
- It is incredibly important that your financial information be shared so that your partner has a clear picture of what is happening with your joint money. This inspires trust and allows the two of you to assess and adjust your goals on an ongoing basis.
- Talk to each other. For example, tell each other when you need to spend over $100 unless it is on groceries or other regular expenses. Some couples set a limit for each to spend as they wish.
- Look at your bank account on line regularly, preferable daily. This is the best way to keep tabs on how your money is being spent and to flag any issues that may arise.
- Make a budget and track it. Quicken and other software are easy to use and are very helpful in tracking expenses and income.
- Build an emergency fund with enough money to last 6 months. This will enhance your financial security and help to protect your relationship should the worst happen.
- Take an early look at your taxes. Depending on your salaries, marriage may impact whether you will owe more or less for the tax year in which you are married.
- Make a plan to tackle debt together.
- While your spouses’ debt does not automatically become yours, it can impact your ability to meet some of your goals. For example, a partner with a poor credit rating can prevent you as a couple from being able to buy a car or a home.
- You both become liable if you have a joint account, apply for joint credit, cosign a loan or add your spouse as a joint account holder to an existing account. If one partner has poor credit or excess debt, your credit will take a blow as well.
- In community property states, both members of the couple are responsible for the debt of the other, even if only one has signed the contract or taken out the money for a loan.
- In paying off debt, start with the smallest amount first. This will keep the motivation going to pay off the next.
- Ask for help. If, as you as a couple, find yourselves avoiding the “talk” or are finding it very stressful or you find yourselves at odds, talking with a Financial Planner/ CPA can help alleviate those worries. Sometimes it is just helpful to speak with a knowledgeable impartial third party. Meeting with a Financial Planner can be part of your premarital/ pre-cohabiting planning and can help you to have the long happy relationship that you are anticipating.
Please give Shapiro Financial Security Group, Inc. a call at 732-739-8991 with any questions or concerns you may have. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you.
Researcher Finds Correlation Between Financial Arguments, Decreased Relationship Satisfaction; K-State News; Sonya Britt, July 12, 2013; https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jul13/predictingdivorce71113.html
The Newlyweds Guide to Financial Success; Kerri Anne Renzulli, June 1, 2017; http://time.com/money/4776640/money-tips-married-couples/
[i] Financial Advice – Why Most Couples Don’t Want to Talk Finances; https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/financial-advice_n_3391292.html
[ii] Researcher Finds Correlation Between Financial Arguments, Decreased Relationship Satisfaction; K-State News; Sonya Britt, July 12, 2013; https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jul13/predictingdivorce71113.html