Planning a wedding, and celebrating a marriage, can be one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life. But it can also be incredibly stressful. With money usually playing a part.
My brothers and I have had a fun (and hectic) couple of weeks with weddings lately. (With a celebration of our own in the near future, shoutout Bren & Meg)
It always amazes me to see how much thought and planning go into weddings. Planning the event requires clear communication, and often compromise. The event itself requires flexibility and understanding that unexpected things may pop up. But hopefully, things run smoothly and the couple can just enjoy their day!
This got me thinking about how we can apply the same level of communication, organization and flexibility to marriage in general.
And while it’s not as fun as cake tasting, sitting down to discuss the expectations you have about your future finances is crucial. According to Psychology Today, 27% of respondents found money to be the biggest stressor in their marriage.
Having truthful discussions about money can lay the foundation for an honest financial relationship. If money is a sticking point in your marriage, consider these 6 money conversations to have with your partner!
6 Money Conversations for Marriage
#1: Your Financial Influences
You probably know what your partner’s childhood was like. But you may not know how finances were handled in their house.
Did their family grow up here in Monmouth County? Were their parents coupon-clipping savers? Or maybe they splurged on dinners out and vacations every year? Now’s the time to dig deep into how their parents may have shaped the way they think about money.
These expectations can be used to determine how your new family will manage money. Or not! You can always choose to start fresh, or talk to a financial planner to help guide you in the right direction.
#2: Spending and Saving Habits
Are you a budgeter? Do you run a tight ship? Or are you someone who pays for things as they come up? Are you someone who online shops a lot? What does your month to month spending look like? Do you have any goals on the horizon as a couple? How are you working to achieve those goals?
Understanding what your partner spends and saves on a month-to-month basis is a big thing to discuss. While you want to be respectful and understanding of their situation, you need to know what is coming in vs. going out. As this will affect your ability to make big tickets purchases like a house or car, if that’s in your future.
Being accountable is huge, but it’s important that it comes from a place of wanting to understand.
#3: Determine Joint or Separate Savings
Should you combine your finances after marriage? Or keep them separate? If you both earn an income, you may decide to keep things separate to make personal discretionary spending easier. However, paying bills could prove to be less complicated coming from one, joint savings account.
Whether you choose to combine or not, it’s important not to glance over this conversation.
#4: Decide Who Does What
Similar to a designated system for household chores, you’ll want to determine who plays what financial role. If one of you is more organized than the other, they could be in charge of paying the monthly bills.
When it comes to the financial planning process, we’ve found it most beneficial to have BOTH partners involved. It helps keeps everybody on the same page and plugged in.
#5: Talk About Taxes
As a married couple, you’ll have several options including married filing jointly, married filing separately, choosing a head of household, etc. Sitting down with a financial planner and/or accountant could help make this decision easier. How you choose to file your taxes can have implications into other areas of your financial plan, so it’s important to have this discussion.
#6: Consider the Future
We often start our planning process with getting a gauge on what the client’s lifestyle is like. There is no judgement here, it’s all personal preference. We just like to have an idea of what type of lifestyle the investment portfolio and retirement income streams need to support.
This needs to be discussed as a couple as well. What kind of retirement are you envisioning? What is your spouse envisioning? Travel? Leisure? Move down South? Stay here in New Jersey?
It’s true, nobody can predict the future. Plans will change. While these plans will not be set in stone, it’s important to have a sense of what your financial future will look like. So have those hypothetical, what-if conversations.
Marriage is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. It’s also a great opportunity to start a new financial journey off on the right foot! Having discussions with your partner will make transitioning into married life that much easier.
After having these discussions, if you feel like you need more guidance – talk to your financial planner. If you don’t have one, we’d be happy to speak with you! Click here to schedule an initial meeting with no cost or obligation.