Before you take the plunge from dating to marriage, there are a few things that you and that “oh he’s so darn cute and sweet—nothing else matters!” guy you’re smitten with need to discuss.
One biggie, that every couple needs to have a serious conversation about, is money. Yep, the subject we all want to avoid… but this is one of the top issues that lead to divorce. So a smart girl takes care of business before it ever becomes a problem.
Here are the top things you need to know and do:
1. Talk about it!
You need to discuss everything before you put on that wedding dress, so don’t avoid this subject; jump in. It will be a multi-layered discussion that happens over time, but this conversation will save you from a bunch of difficult ones in the future.
2. Does he have debt?
If he does, you need a plan. Or, if you have debt, he needs to know. There are three ways to handle it. It’s paid off before you marry, you put it into your budget, or you have paperwork drawn up that the one who does not hold debt will not be liable. Whatever you decide upon is between the two of you. Just don’t avoid it; have the courage to decide!
3. Discuss your financial priorities.
Do you shop sales and does he love expensive cars? Or are you the diamond girl and he wears his underwear until it’s merely a waistband and a few tattered pieces of cloth? You can make adjustments for each personality type, but compromise and shared priorities are a must.
4. Make a budget!
Yep, that thing we all hate. You can create it any way you want. Rent, utilities, car payment … you can even have a budget line named Target, Home Depot, or Walmart. Just create a budget that both of you agree upon and that you can meet.
5. Sharing bank accounts.
That’s a hard one if you’re an independent woman, but if you’re committed enough to share your life, you should be willing to share your money. Marriage is what we call “the whole meal deal.” You get the salad, drink, entrée, and dessert—you’re all in. It really works best when you are.
6. Plan for the unexpected.
No matter how much we want to believe life is controllable, it’s not. That is true of finances too. Cars break down, job loss happens, illness hits … these all change your financial picture. When you budget, put aside some money so that when the unexpected occurs, you’re prepared.
7. Think long-term.
So you’re only 25 and retirement looks a lifetime away. It’s not. So, add that to your budget, even $25 a month will make a huge difference! The day will come when you will be glad you did.
Minefields in marriage will be avoided if you just take a little bit of time to diffuse them before the day you say, “I do.”
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