by Nicole Burdick, Simplified Spaces
If you’ve started planning your wedding already, you’ve probably discussed your wedding budget with your significant other. What may not be as urgent, but is of equal importance, is budgeting how you will spend your money together as a couple.
Money is never fun to talk about, which may be why couples avoid discussing it until it’s too late. Many studies cite money arguments as the top cause of divorce in the U.S., so get a head start on a healthy marriage by starting the discussion before you say “I do.”
Track your current budget
If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to start tracking your own budget. If you’re new to budgeting, don’t worry; it’s easy. Start out by reviewing the last two to three months and noting how you spent your money. Are there changes you’d like to make? Note how you would like to spend or save differently, and let that be your budget moving forward. Some great online tools to check out include Mint, BudgetTracker and BudgetSimple.
Talk about it
No doubt, you have a lot on your plate with planning a wedding, but make time to talk about your financial future before you get married. The day will come and go, but you’ll be living with blended finances for the rest of your lives.
Your first year of marriage is going to involve a lot of adjusting, and it will be important to schedule a regular time to have a budget chat. You may find one of you enjoys creating the budget more, which is great. Just make sure you make time to talk about it so you both understand how much money you have, how you’re spending it, how you’re saving it, what your goals are and what you need to do to reach those goals.
Open a joint account
Having a joint account will help you keep wedding expenses separate from personal in the months leading up to your wedding. You can contribute as you’re able and deposit contributions from friends and family members. Once you’re married, you may choose to close your individual personal accounts and just use the joint, or keep your own accounts and use the joint for shared expenses such as rent and groceries. It’s up to you, but be sure to discuss it in advance to ensure shared expectations.
Lay it all out
You may be embarrassed by how much debt you have, but it’s only fair to your future spouse to be completely up front. You may find it helpful to process your feelings about your financial situation with your fiancé and know that they are committed to working with you toward financial success. When you both have a clear idea of the debt you’re dealing with, you’ll be more likely to have shared expectations and less likely to have fights.
I hate to break it to you, but no matter how well you get along, you will have money disagreements. Keep in mind though that these disagreements are simply a result of two different people with different values trying to work on the same system. For example, my husband values outdoor adventuring while I value getting rid of debt as quickly as possible. We had to find a compromise that allowed us to invest in things like camping gear and a new bike while making adequate progress towards paying off our student loans. By compromising, he knows I support his love of the outdoors, and I know he is committed to paying off our debts in the near future.
If you’re struggling to work through money matters, consider finding a local budget class or working through your budget with a counselor. A counselor may not get the numbers, but they can help you work through the feelings associated with your money. For more help, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about preparing to start your lives together, read our blog post on merging your homes.