A happy couple strolls down the aisle hand-in-hand as the church bells let out a triumphant ring and the members of the congregation cheer loudly. The bride and groom are happy, smiling and having the time of their lives. As weeks and months go by following the wedding, it doesn’t take long for the happiness of the marriage to come to a screeching halt. Bills start coming in and payments need to be made. One spouse makes more money than the other. She likes to save; while he likes to spend. Who should be responsible for making sure all the bills are paid? Whose money pays for which bills?
Throw in joint finances and major financial decisions and things quickly even tougher. Finances are enough to end the “honeymoon stage” relatively quickly. One tip for weathering the early financial storm is simple: discuss finances ahead of time. Oftentimes before getting married, couples may be required to go through prep course where a number of topics are discussed in depth. Commonly, one of these topics is finances. However, for other couples, a financial course is not required. This makes it even more important to talk about finances up-front.
Talk about finances
Be open with your partner right away. Discuss your fears with finances and how you think it would be best to handle them. Disclose to your fiancé or partner (if they don’t already know) what bills you have and what bills you will continue to have. Come up with a plan to pay down any outstanding debt. Review the payment schedule on your student loans, car loans, etc.
This is also a good time to discuss the use of things like credit to pay for major expenses like furniture. It’s possible that one partner wants to wait to buy a new couch until cash is available to pay for it; while the other partner is okay with taking out debt and paying it off in 12 months. No option is really better than the other; it’s just important to know the differences in how you spend.
There’s no better time than the present
If finances were something you avoided talking with your spouse or partner about prior to marriage or moving in together, there’s no better time than the present. Here are some tips to help avoid financial stress as a couple.
Plan one night every two weeks to work on bills and cook dinner together. Then…
- Balance the checking account together.
- Work together to pay the bills.
- Don’t fight over whose money pays for what things.
- If possible, pay out monthly as evenly as possible.
If you follow these tips, nobody will feel the burden of doing everything and no one will feel like one person is contributing more than the other.
Keep each other’s feelings in mind
This last part is simple: always consider each other’s feelings when it comes to finances and talk it out.
If you’ve been together for 10 months or 10 years and haven’t talked about finances, it’s never too late to start. Money can be a stressful topic with you and your partner, but communication is the key to financial success in any relationship.
Want someone to help you and your partner start the financial conversation? Call LSS at 888.577.2227. Our Financial Counselors are here to help. You can also get started with ease by completing ONLINE COUNSELING NOW. We’re just a click or a phone call away!
Author Sarah Packingham is a DMP Specialist with LSS Financial Counseling.