When young couples become engaged and start the process of planning a wedding, many times they can get so caught up in planning all the details of the wedding day that they end up ignoring many of those hugely important details that can affect the long term future of the marriage after the wedding ceremony is long gone.
Start Planning Your Financial Life Together Before the Wedding
When it comes to engagement and marriage, it’s very important for the future bride and groom to start planning how they will live their life together not just for the next couple of years, but for the rest of their lives.
One of the most important aspects of how you make a strong marriage is how you handle your money as a couple.
When you’re single you’re not used to having to share your money, and the only person you have to answer to financially is yourself. But when you marry and throw a new spouse into the mix, things can get very complicated, very quickly. So in order to avoid problems related to money early in your marriage, it’s best to start working out how you’ll handle the finances as a couple before you get married.
Speaking from personal experience, it took my wife Angie and I many years to learn to agree about how to handle our money as a couple because we didn’t really discuss finances before we got married. Failing to do that eventually caused us a ton of stress and many money fights, and was just one factor out of many that almost cost us our marriage.
So to start your marriage out to be the best it can be (financially, anyway) here’s a few things that I recommend you do with your future spouse before you walk down that aisle:
- Lay It All Out on the Table, Even the Stuff You’re not Proud of- Your future spouse should know everything about where you stand financially. You should each share the details of how much you make, how much you owe, what credit cards you have, credit scores, etc. Even share those details you may be embarrassed about (i.e. how much you spend on getting your unibrow waxed each month).
- No Hiding- It may seem innocent to hide a credit card with a big balance or a bill you don’t want your spouse to know about, but innocent it is not. When, not if, your spouse eventually discovers what you’re hiding, they will feel betrayed and upset because of your lack of honesty. Now is the time to be totally honest. One of the worst things you can do is to start your marriage out with secrets that will rear their ugly head at the worst possible time in the future, causing pain in your marriage.
- Decide How You Will Handle Debt- This blog is all about debt freedom, so I always recommend being debt free. As newlyweds it’s very important to plan how you as a couple will pay off existing debts and how you will handle debt going into the future. Now is the time to begin coming into agreement about how you’ll get those debts paid off if there are any, and put together a plan to make a debt free future for yourselves that will enhance your marriage instead of bogging you down in the bondage of debt.
- Learn to Make a Budget- Why? Because when you sit down together and plan out your spending on paper, you’re able to discuss and be open about the marital finances and work as a team. If you don’t work together to make a plan, it’s easy for blame and mistrust to creep in because you don’t have a plan and you wonder where all the money is going every month.
- Combine Your Money- There should be no “His” money and “Her” money. As we say here in the South, that’s y’all’s money. Deposit all paychecks into one central account that is used to pay all the bills and provide for all of the family expenses. Each of you can take out a specific amount (an allowance, if you will) that has been budgeted for spending money for each individual, but you should agree on the amount in advance using the written budget. Working out of one central account helps to foster unity and communication about the finances so that neither spouse is left out of the loop financially.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of planning a wedding that it’s easy to forget about planning a marriage. So if you’re engaged and planning the wedding day of your dreams, try to remember that a wedding is just one day, and you should do your best to make it special, but a marriage is (hopefully) forever.
The more preparation and effort you put in on the front end, the better you set yourself up for decades of future married bliss.
Do you have any tips on preparing for marriage? Let me know in the comments.