Money and marriage: two words that stick together like glue but for some reason aren’t talked about in the same sentence as much as they should be. However, if you’re about to get married or plan to get married at any point in your life, money is a topic that will be covered whether you like it or not. The choice you get to make is whether it’ll be talked about in advance where there are little/no surprises or if you’ll be forced to talk about it later when you find out that your spouse didn’t tell you about that auto loan she defaulted on when she lost her car in a high-stakes poker game in Mexico. Today, let’s cover a few points that you should review with each other before you say I do:
Want to know the quickest way to have an awkward first dinner at Olive Garden after you’ve tied the knot? Try letting your spouse know that they just inherited tens of thousands of dollars in personal credit card debts from that not-so-awesome trip to Fire Festival (too soon?). Where there is an argument to be made that no future spouse on the planet will be happy to hear about that kind of thing, the fact of the matter is that they’ll be even more upset if they feel like they’ve been tricked into inheriting your poor financial decisions.
Put all of your debts out in the open. Once you’re married, you’ll have virtually no way of hiding that kind of information. So do your spouse and yourself a favor and take the early opportunity to air out your dirty laundry while they have a chance to process it without feeling trapped. It will either provide them with the option to leave if they can’t deal with that kind of commitment or the chance to meet it straight on with you as you do battle in the future to rid yourself of that baggage.
Don’t think this is part of money discussions before marriage? Think again. If you’ve never been involved with the church before, you might not know about a little thing called tithing.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a tithe is typically a tenth of your income that will be paid to the church. This payment is seen in many different ways but in general, it’s made with the hope that it will be used by the church to provide blessings to the community. This can be via outreach services and/or in continuing operations on grounds.
To those who have never been a part of the church, this can feel like a huge burden that you weren’t prepared for. But to those who were raised in religious households, tithing is typically a given. That being said, don’t forget to bring this topic up and how you’ll be handling it in the future in your combined household.
You know that standing hair appointment that you have every month to make sure you’re lookin’ like the hottest Victoria’s Secret model on the runway and not like Gollum? When you get married, your spouse may not know that you have that tradition or have other items that you can’t go without. These are called your money musts (must haves) and these are very important to talk about.
Whether you think they’re a given or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that your special somebody may have no clue that you have these expenses and they may not be prepared for the cost on your monthly budget. And that goes for the gentlemen as well. If you don’t think your wife is going to be angry when she finds out how much money you feel you have to spend every time that new Madden game comes out for PS4, you’re in for a bad time.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be able to do these things. It’s just to say that they need to be shared before they’re discovered as a line item at the end of the month. Personal time and hobbies need to be accounted for and if they don’t fit in the new combined budget, you both may need to adjust accordingly.
Kids Kids Kids:
Do you want to have kids? If so, you’ll want to talk about how your future spouse sees it happening monetarily. Kids are a huge drain on your household income and that’s true even if one of you plans on staying at home with them.
Questions that should be asked here are:
- How many do you hope to have?
- Do you have any money already stashed away for it?
- Are you wanting to stay home or wanting me to stay home?
- If one of us isn’t staying home, how much are daycare costs in our area?
- Will we potentially qualify for benefits in our income bracket?
- Do you have health issues that may be passed down that could cost additional money?
- If we can’t have kids, are you wanting to adopt? Are you aware of the cost of adoption? If we can’t afford it without mortgaging multiple homes, will you be okay with not having kids?
- Do we wish to put money away for our nieces and nephews? Do we already do that?
Granted, this discussion should go beyond just monetary policy regarding having kids but these are the core that you’ll most likely have to tackle later when the little dude of dudette show up.
Individual or Combined Accounts:
This is a question that’s been creating arguments since the dawn of time. Do you plan to combine your existing bank accounts or do you want to keep things separate after you get married? There are good arguments for both sides but ultimately it’s about doing what’s best for you.
Personally, in our household, we have combined accounts. The simple logic with this is that once you get married, you become one family. My gains are her gains and her gains are mine. Likewise, we share our losses should they ever occur.
Leaving them separated can lead to insecurities in your marriage, create resentment when one of you is doing better than the other financially, and give off the illusion that you don’t actually share each other’s property. Additionally, there’s a magical thing that happens when you combine what you have with your spouse; you become both mentally and financially invested in each other’s futures.
However, there will always risks when combining your accounts. For one, your spouse could withdraw all of your money and disappear. Secondly, if your partner has a gambling problem or other addiction, they could tank it in their struggles with it. Finally, if you’re going to be blending your families (bringing children from another marriage/past life event), it can sometimes be best to keep it separate so that there are fewer arguments about which child will get what or how fairly money is spent on each of the little rugrats.
Depending on how many assets you have, a premarital agreement (or as it’s known on the streets: a prenup’) might need to be discussed. These legal documents are the backbone of a marriage where one spouse has significantly more to lose (monetarily) than the other. They establish the financial rights of each party entering into the marriage and set a list of established property and how it will be processed should a divorce occur in the future.
If your premarital document is created correctly (and not by your sketchy uncle, Rick who got his law degree from the back of a cereal box), it will provide a legally binding agreement and in most cases, it will be upheld by a court of law should it be challenged during a nasty divorce. These documents can set forth certain parameters such as a length of time it’s good for, the specific property you or your spouse are worried about retaining, or in some cases (if legal in your state) specify whether you’ll owe alimony.
Truth be told, this is a tough subject to navigate (like most financially unfriendly topics) and one might even argue that if you think you’ll need one, you should probably think twice about who you’re going to marry. However, if you have specific funds that need protecting that you can’t place at risk (such as a fund that is used primarily to aid your sick/disabled mother), this is an absolute must-have talk before you say yes at the altar.
And that’s all, folks! If you’ve enjoyed today’s read and want to be updated every time we drop the next post, make sure to hit the subscribe button so you can be sent an email as soon as it’s up. Or, if you’re looking for a certain topic to be discussed, try messaging us and we’ll see what kind of information our covert group of spy kittens can uncover.
Until next time,