As a married guy, I am a big advocate for marriage. I also loved the process of becoming married. My heart fluttered with excitement when I finally got the opportunity to pop the question. The following months were a flurry of excitement and, in some cases, stress. One thing we learned while dating was the importance of being on the same page. This meant we needed to learn how to discuss our finances.
There are certain areas you should agree upon before marriage. Money is one of them. In fact, research shows money arguments to be a leading cause of divorce. If you haven’t had a chance to talk with your new spouse or fiance about money, now is a good time to start! So, what should the two of you discuss?
1. Discuss how to combine your finances
I’m going to sound old-fashioned here, but I need to say it. Do not combine your finances until you are married. Combining your finances before marriage can have severe consequences. If the relationship fails, the legal side of sorting everything out gets messy. And I mean REALLY messy.
Anyways, it’s still a good idea to discuss how to combine your finances. Statistically, married couples who combine their finances have a higher chance of success than those who don’t.
Marriage is a legal union where two become one. Legally and spiritually, once you say “I Do” there’s no longer “his money” or “her money.” On the contrary, it becomes “our money.”
2. Discuss any debt either of you may have
I’m going to say this right now: it’s okay to marry someone who has debt. Yes, even if you are an “I hate debt!” kind of person. The question is whether or not you want to stay that way. You need to be honest with one another about your situation.
Trust me, this is not something you want to try to hide. Hiding your debt from your fiance or new spouse erodes trust. And trust is something hard to get back.
Furthermore, you need to work on a plan to get out of debt together. I am a big advocate for the debt snowball method. Once you combine your incomes, you should be able to knock debt out!
3. Discuss how to do a budget together
This is a big one. Budgeting is an essential skill for financial success. Budgeting together is especially important for married couples. If you don’t know how to do a budget, now is an excellent time to learn.
Why budget together? Because it gives each of you a voice. Both spouses need to be able to speak into where the money goes. Once you complete the budget, you need to make sure each of you has access to it at all times.
I recommend have a weekly “budget meeting” to check up with each other. During these meetings, you can have a frank conversation with your spouse about your finances.
4. Discuss your goals and dreams together
This needs to be a priority. It’s okay for spouses to have separate dreams, but both of you need to be each other’s cheerleaders to accomplish those dreams.
Furthermore, you should share some of the same dreams and goals. This will give you drive to work together. For example, my wife and I have a shared dream for our children to go to college debt free. Even though we don’t have children yet, we dream of the day when they earn their diplomas without carrying a burden.
Your dreams and your goals need to be specific and measurable. Plus, it’s also a fun way to get to know your spouse! Get to know each others’ dreams and talk about how to get there.
Discussing Finances is Succeeding in Marriage
Marriage is both challenging and rewarding. Both spouses need to work together to be successful. Commitment to working together is crucial to success! Conversely, you will fail if you continuously think only of yourself, break trust, and act selfishly.
Many couples in America struggle with their finances. Having another person speak into your financial life is a difficult adjustment. But I encourage you to master the art of working as one! There’s nothing like pursuing your dreams together.