If you want your marriage to last, sometimes you have to do the unspeakable: have an awkward conversation.
Planning your wedding might have been a challenge, but there is a lifetime of money management ahead of you. Credit, debt and cash flow is not a sexy conversation, however it's necessary. The statistics on marriage and divorce are troublesome and money is often a major culprit.
Lay the Ground Work
Before you talk, establish ground rules. Here are a few:
- Be respectful, don't talk while the speaks
- Listen to understand, and not to object
- Be clear about your wants and needs, don't beat around the bush
- Speak the truth, about your wants and needs, don't say what you think the other spouse wants to hear
- Find common ground, negotiate with your spouse to find ways so both can win
- If at first you do not succeed, table it. Give time and space the opportunity to clear the air, but try again.
Set Up Bank Accounts
One of the most important decisions to determine is the handling of the accounts. When it comes to banking, select the best option: separate accounts, his, her and a joint account or one joint account.
Assign a Money Manager
Next, know who pays the bills and from which accounts. Is one spouse better at budgeting than the other?
Manage your accounts online with Mint.com.
Determine Big Ticket Purchases
It's easy for a single person to buy a big ticket item; they either buy it or they do not, but for married couples it can be more difficult. How will you handle it as a couple? Will you want analyze options and needs or can a spouse just outright buy whatever he or she wants? Is there a dollar limit? Think about how one spouse might feel if the other one came home with a brand new car, or new designer bag? Know which purchases are ok to buy alone and which aren't
Plan for Children
Do you want children? Children can be expensive. Think about the financial impacts of a career break. How will you handle those expenses and even new ones for things such as new furniture, formula and clothing? If necessary, investigate day care options. Know how you want to educate your children, both in their primary years, as well as into their college.
Death, Disability and Unemployment
Talk about what you would do if one of you became disabled, died or unemployed. How would you handle that? Do you have the right kinds of insurance in place to cover such events?
Your Estate, Entertainment and Financial Goals
How will you build your estate? What kind of future do you envision for yourself? Do you want to buy a home? If so, what is the time horizon? How will you save for retirement? Do either of you need to go back to school or college? Do you need to set up a college fund for yourself, children or grandchildren? How often will you take vacations? Moreover, when you do, what kind of vacations will you take? Will you take expensive luxury vacations, long weekends a few times a year or spend a week every year at grandmas. What other financial goals do you have?
Get ahead of a problem that so many couples face, talk to your spouse about money. Share your dreams, day dream, focus on and plan for a great life together. It is the best way to have peace of mind in your marriage.
Get started now on the right financial foot at Mint.com.
Written by Princess Clark-Wendel.
Photo Credits: Leland Francisco