Money & Career
Can Romance & Finance Go Hand in Hand?
2/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
Romance & Finance

While money may not seem romantic, understanding your feelings about money prior to marriage can be an important part of keeping your love alive. How can engaged couples keep finance from ruining their romance?

Get to know each other financially.

You and your fiancé probably feel you know each other well. And chances are you’ve already established some basic money ground rules such as who pays for what, especially if you’ve been living together. But if you haven’t gone deeper and discussed your underlying attitudes about money, you may still have a few things to hash out. As you plan to join forces long-term, now is the time to learn them.

In fact, it’s wise to dig deeper and ask some very specific financial questions before you tie the knot. For instance, is one of you a saver and the other a spender? How do you each handle credit and debt? What about financial independence and control? These are concerns that can rear up later if you don›t address them now.

It may seem hard to bring these topics up initially, but think of it this way: you’re not just talking about money. You’re talking about your hopes for your future together and how you can make them a reality. Do you want to buy a house? Raise a family? Launch a new business? These all require resources. Start by making a date to talk about what you each want, how you’ll prioritize your goals, and finally how you’ll work together to finance them.

Decide how much financial togetherness you want.

If you’ve each been financially independent for a while, deciding upfront how much you want to mingle your finances is important. Couples often create a "yours, mine, ours” system of three checking accounts that will allow you each to have a separate account for personal expenses and a joint account for shared expenses. That way you both have some autonomy, but also work together for common goals and expenses.

When it comes to your savings and investments, there’s a bit more to consider. For example, if you already have assets, you could decide to keep those assets separate to maintain some financial independence. If you’d rather pool some or all your resources, talk about it now so there will be no surprises or hurt feelings later on.

Agree on roles and responsibilities.

Don’t allow misunderstandings about everyday money matters to cause problems. 

Devise a plan to handle:

Expenses—Even if you’ve already been sharing certain expenses, ensure you’re each comfortable with how you’ll handle everyday costs once you’re married. Will you each contribute to household expenses like rent or a mortgage, utilities and groceries? Will you keep certain personal expenses separate such as clothes or individual entertainment? If you both work and one of you makes more money than the other, agree on what percentage of your individual incomes you’ll contribute to the household that’s fair to each of you. Then agree on who will be responsible for actually paying the bills.

Debts—This can be sticky. If either of you is coming to the marriage with student loans, credit card debt or car payments, you need to decide how these will be paid off. Will you each cover your own debts? While you’re not responsible for each other’s debts that were accumulated before the marriage, is one of you in the position—and willing—to help the other? Then talk about how you’ll handle credit and debt as a couple.

Saving and Investing—This is one of the most important agreements. How you save and invest will determine whether you meet your goals—both mutual and individual. Decide what percentage of your incomes you’ll save each year and how you’ll divide your savings among short-term goals like a vacation and long-term goals like retirement. Even if one of you is more comfortable with investing and wants to take the lead, it’s important that you’re both involved with all major decisions.

Make it formal (or not).

Once you and your fiancé have spent time discussing how you’ll merge your financial lives, another option is draw up a prenuptial agreement that not only spells out how your assets will be distributed in case of divorce but also stipulates the financial terms of your marriage. This is not a requirement. In fact, for many couples the real benefit comes from having the discussions, not from having a legal document.

Before you tie the knot, however, it’s important for all couples to create or revisit their estate planning documents including powers of attorney, beneficiaries, and will.

Be willing to listen.

Everyone has different feelings about money based on their experiences, so as you and your fiancé begin to talk about money it’s important to listen and not be judgmental. Understanding each other’s attitudes brings couples closer. Find a comfortable time and place to begin the conversation, plan together, dream together—and when you toast each other on your wedding day, toast to your financial future as well.

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Categories: Finances

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