According to John Lennon, money can't buy you love. But it may help lead to divorce. Disagreements over finances are often cited as the leading cause of divorce. If you're planning on tying the knot anytime soon, now is the time to sit down with your groom-to-be and go over your finances.
Here are a few tips to make sure that money doesn't get in the way of "happily ever after."
- Be open and honest. Any successful marriage is built on honesty and trust; your finances are no exception.
- Discuss and set long-term goals. Determine what is important to both of you, and agree to work together to accomplish your goals, whether they include paying off your debt, saving for a down payment on a home, or retirement planning. If you're both on the same page for your long-term goals, you're less likely to argue about short-term spending.
- Create a spending plan to manage monthly and/or daily spending. Sit down together and go over your income and expenses. It sounds simple, but building wealth comes from spending less than what you earn every week, every month, and every year.
- Plan what you are going to do with the money you earn. Make sure to set aside money for periodic and "unexpected" expenses like holiday gifts and car maintenance. Most budgets fail because people feel constrained by them. Set aside some "fun money" to allow for the occasional indulgence. That way, if you have the money in your spending category, you have the freedom to get those perfect shoes when you find them, without feeling guilty about it. And he can get that new golf club too.
- Automate your finances. For most of us, if it isn't easy, we won't do it. Your finances are far too important to simply avoid managing them. Make it easy on yourself by automating your finances. Use an online tool like Mvelopes Personal (www.mvelopes.com) to create and manage your spending plan. Use online bill pay to set up automatic transfers into a savings account to make saving simple. You can also set up automatic payments on your mortgage, car payment, credit card, or just about any other bill to avoid late payments (and the accompanying fights). Most banks offer online bill pay now, and Mvelopes includes a free online bill pay service.
- Start planning for your future…NOW. This may be the most important thing you can do for yourself. Your wedding should be the start of a wonderful life together, but if you really do want to live happily ever after, you need to start planning for tomorrow today. Set aside some money in your spending plan for a retirement account. Contribute to a 401(k) or set up an automatic transfer to an IRA. Time can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy. The sooner you start, the easier it will be. Start today. Start now.
Money isn't everything, and discussing your finances now won't necessarily ensure that you'll end up billionaires, but it may help avoid arguments later on and let you focus on enjoying your time together. And isn't that why you're getting married in the first place…to live happily ever after?
Steven B. Smith is president and CEO of In2M Corporation and author of Money for Life: Budgeting Success and Financial Fitness in Just 12 Weeks! Visit in2m.com to learn more.
Take the Next Step:
- Sit down with your bride- or groom-to-be and begin your financial dialogue today.
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