Take care with your finances to get a real happily ever after
Image source: Flickr user Kelly Sue DeConnick
While marriage is on the decline in some parts of the world, for many it's still the traditional option that they prefer. Matrimony is all about sharing your love, but it's also about sharing your finances. What can be hard to fathom in the first blushes of your romance is that money problems can cause problems so serious that love may not be enough to get you past them. It's important that you both go into your marriage with eyes wide open about each other's financial situation. From there, you can work together to keep your finances healthy and in check so your marriage can be happy as well.
Here are some pieces of money advice for married couples:
#1 Set financial goals together
You likely had goals of your own when you met and married, but are they the same as your partner's? Do you want a house more than anything? Does your significant other want to hold off until you have fewer debts? Both short and long-term financial goals should be discussed, negotiated and then planned for so that each of you can feel you're getting to do what you want to a certain extent. Compromise will be necessary, but that's much better than holding onto individual conflicting goals that split your money matters.
#2 Share costs
If you lived on your own as an adult for a while before you married, you're accustomed to managing your own money, paying your own bills and generally taking care of just yourself. But once you're married, it pays to combine your money for a variety of reasons. We've written before that people that are co-habitating, but not married, should think carefully before combining money. But once you're wed, it may make good sense to. You should share your costs as you're sharing your life.
#3 Pool money for big purchases
Even if you keep your money separate to some extent, pooling it makes sense when it comes to major investments and purchases. Things like a down payment for a house, a car or a vacation are better (and faster) accomplished when both of you are driving toward the same goals together. Pooling money means you'll have more to put down which can get you better terms and will save you both cash in the long run. Take a partnership approach to big stuff not only in deciding
#4 Respect each other's strong points
Different people are good at different things and this holds true for money as well. Some of us are natural-born savers, some have a good head for numbers and budgeting while others just like to spend like there's no tomorrow. Be aware of which of you in the marriage is better at which financial skill and divide up tasks accordingly. If you're the spender, maybe you shouldn't be the one in charge of the debit card. But if your good financial planner is bad at sending out payments on time, that may be a better task for you. Figure out what each of you is best at when it comes to money and respect each other's skills.
#5 Be supportive
One of the biggest side effects of money troubles is stress. This won't do your marriage any favors, especially not on top of financial problems. Money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce, but even if your money is tight it doesn't have to drive you apart. It's easy to play the blame game and point the finger at one another for whatever financial difficulties you're having, but that won't create more money. As long as you're supporting each other, difficult times can actually bring you closer together and strengthen your marriage.
#6 Communicate, even if you separate
If your marriage is falling apart (it happens) whether money is to blame or not, keeping the lines of communication open is important because your finances don't break up quite as easily as a marriage. It's easy to get bitter when things don't work out, but it's best to hold it together until you can get your finances separated. This can mean selling your home, transferring car titles, closing out joint accounts and opening new separate ones and making sure none of your credit cards and bills are left with both your names on it. Once the marriage ends, neatly severing the financial ties is necessary and can be done more easily if you can communicate and stay civil throughout the process.
#7 Do bankruptcy together, even if you separate
For many couples, divorce can also mean money problems. If there are financial issues prior to the split, divorce can often make these worse since you'll be maintaining two households and the extra expenses that go along with this scenario. If both your names are on bills you can't pay and one of you files bankruptcy, the other partner will be left financially culpable. It's better to file bankruptcy together, then file for divorce. This will give both of you the best shot at a clean slate, both emotionally and financially.
If you're happily married, but your finances aren't so blissful or if your marriage is failing along with your finances, we can help. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt today for a free consultation on your money issues today.