So you’re getting ready for The Big Day. But once the hoopla dies down after the wedding and honeymoon, you and your new spouse have to face the future together. And research suggests that couples who agree on spending and saving do better for the long haul. So to promote a long, happy marriage, here are some key money matters newlyweds should discuss before marrying.
HAPPY COUPLES & MONEY
Prepare-Enrich.com surveyed 21,501 married couples and found significant differences in the way happy couples and unhappy couples handle finances. Among happy couples, 89 percent say they tend to agree on how to spend money; only 41 percent of unhappy couples, however, find agreement here. Happy couples reported satisfaction with savings decisions (73 percent), debt (76 percent) and financial decisions (80 percent). Their unhappy neighbors reported dissatisfaction with savings (71 percent), problems with debt (65 percent) and difficulty with financial decisions (68 percent).
Read Related: Financial Matters to Discuss Before Getting Married
The takeaway from this survey? Talk about money now. The more you communicate and understand each other’s views toward spending and saving, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter post-wedding and the happier you’ll be.
Happy marriages are built on trust. Disclose all your sources of income and expenses to each other. If you’re going into the marriage with an annuity, structured settlement or some other source, be up front about it—even though it is, technically, yours. You might even consider selling your structured settlement payments to a third-party buyer such as J.G. Wentworth for a lump sum that could be used as a down payment on your first house.
HOW TO BLEND YOUR MONEY
Stacy Willoughby, author of “What’s Yours Is Mine: When a Realist Marries an Idealist,” suggests four money-management options for couples:
- Blend it all together in one big pot (what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is yours)
- Hold one joint account for household expenses and separate individual accounts for everything else
- Maintain completely separate accounts and divide household expenses
- Take baby steps by starting with a joint savings account
Use Willoughby’s options as a starting point for your conversation. She says that couples who maintain separate accounts are at risk for trust issues, because it facilitates a sense of secrecy. Withholding information about money can be just as damaging as lying about it, and holding separate accounts won’t resolve that issue.
DISCUSS MAJOR PURCHASES
How will you and your spouse handle major purchase decisions? “Jointly” would be the best and most obvious answer, but that can be easier said than done. One of you might be averse to carrying large debt while the other sees it as the American way. As you talk about money, follow one simple rule: Feelings are not right or wrong. They are feelings. If one of you feels uncomfortable buying a home before building a nest egg, it’s not the job of the other to persuade him/her to change his/her mind. Your job is to listen and look for opportunities to compromise and set parameters that you both feel comfortable with.