Money before Marriage
Money before marriage is an essential conversation everyone should have prior to marriage when you consider the divorce statistics associated with money before marriage.
Financial surprises after marriage run the gamut from, “I assumed he owned his home”, and, “I did not know he was deep in debt to his x-wife”. These are just two of hundreds of surprises newly married couples encounter.
The problems go both ways, there are men who are surprised that their new wife got married only to quit her well-paying job shortly after marrying. And there are women who are surprised to learn their new husband has been laid off his job and didn’t tell her.
These are very serious issues, and they signal the fact that too many couples are taking money for granted before they marry. Before getting married, couples should have more in common, than not.
Besides respect and understanding for each other, having good financial habits in common are important. If not, after the honeymoon period is over, fights may ensue over the smallest money issues.
Marriage partners bring their bad money problems or good money habits to the marriage, so understanding what your partner’s money habits are before you marry is crucial.
Psychologists say the glue that holds marriages together is the number of things you have in common. The more you have in common the more likely you will stay in a happy long-term marriage. At the top of that list, is finances.
The more you have in common with great finances, the better your marriage will fare, financially. I have listed some of the financial habits you should have in common, that will foster a healthy marriage relationship, below.
The Financial Aspects You Should Have in Common Before Marriage,
Both of You Should:
- Believe in living within a budget
- Live within your means
- Purchase products you can afford
- Have supplemental savings accounts before you marry
- Have good credit reports before you marry
- Invest in a pension or other retirement account at work or personally
- Be interested in buying an affordable home after marrying
- Identify and alleviate poor money habits before you marry
Most couples are still in the admiration phase of their relationship before they marry, so they assume that all is to be admired on the financial front also.
But, unfortunately, just as the experts will tell you, people don’t change for marriage. It may take some time to understand that your spouse has poor money management skills, and in most cases, those habits were there before marriage.
How Do You Determine if Money Before Marriage is a Problem?
There are many ways to spot financially dysfunctional behavior in a potential spouse. You have to be willing to understand what a wasteful person does and be willing to look honestly at money with your fiance.
Some people don’t understand what financial problems look like and some are hidden. Your best bet is to look for signs of financial mismanagement. Here are many to consider:
1. Does he or she live in an apartment with no furniture? – sounds funny, but this could mean your partner is super frugal-paying off bills, unreasonably cheap, or can’t afford furniture because of financial mismanagement.
Even if it is second-hand furniture. The functional sign would be that he/or she is super frugal and waiting to buy furniture after some crucial bills are paid off.
2. If he/or she makes a modest income, but owns an expensive car. The problem with an expensive car is that not only is the monthly payment painful, but the upkeep could consume most of a monthly paycheck. This is a very bad sign of financial dysfunction.
3. If he/or she lives in and owns a home that is too expensive for their income and assets.
4. That he/or she takes expensive vacations and their salary is modest.
5. That he/or she carries a large number of credit cards and pulls out a different one each time you go out.
6. The absolute must is to share your bill/credit history with each other. Excessive bills for his/or her income is a huge sign.
7. Your partner should be willing to pay down excessive bills before marriage.
8. If your partner can’t make a pack with you to keep debt low during your marriage, you may need to reconsider your choice and alleviate a lifetime of financial pain.
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Many of you spend more time selecting a ring before marriage then discussing marriage finances. Yet, how many of you have heard of a couple divorcing due to “ring problems?”
Professional marriage counselors tell us the single most common reason for divorce in this country, are problematic marriage finances. There are three to five other top divorce reasons, but money issues tops the list.
My question to you is “Do you think these problems started after marriage?” I’ll save you some trouble, “the answer is no.” We bring all of our pre-marriage baggage with us into our seemingly wonderful marriages. Included in this pre-marriage baggage is the credit report.
You say, “credit report,” what does that have to do with marrying the most wonderful person I have ever met in my whole life? The answer, “a lot!”
In your credit report lies those nasty little financial secrets we call “past and current financial problems.” If your spouse is not willing to share his or her credit report with you before you marry, look at that as an early sign of problematic marriage finances.
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What can a credit report tell us?
- In the case where a credit report is several pages long, this is a strong indicator that your spouse-to-be is overextended. In some cases, far too overextended.
- Several delinquencies listed on a credit report simply means your Mr. or Ms. Right just doesn’t bother to pay his/or her bills in a timely fashion, or ignores them altogether.
- Then there is the real ugly stuff, which can appear on a credit report, like previous DUI’s (that’s drunk driving offenses, for those of you who don’t know). Then there are the liens and judgments, and yes, even the nicest most attractive people can end up here.
Far too many men and woman are baffled by their “significant others” spending habits and financial problems, after they are married.
This probably happens for any number of reasons; these are just a few;
- Some people just don’t believe someone they, “think they know” is capable of doing “nasty things” like, not paying their bills on time?
- Some people simply don’t understand the significance of “not paying bills on time.” The significance is that the person you are about to marry may with bill paying and money in general.
- Some people simply do not get to know their spouses well enough to get married, but in our “get-married” promoted society, some have a tendency to rush to the altar.
Most of you are on your best behavior before marriage, and others simply don’t understand the significance of credit history before they marry, therefore the thought never occurs to ask the potential spouse about financial history to establish marriage finances.
So what happens, you marry a seemingly wonderful person, discover their bad financial history after marriage, fight over it, and then divorce, sometimes after fighting over money for years.
To avoid this cycle, look at the credit report of Mr. or Ms. Wonderful before marriage. Get together, pull it out, and go over both reports. If he or she refuses, think twice about the true “wonderfulness” of your soon-to-be spouse.
The credit report is only one indicator of financial dysfunction with your potential spouse, others are excessive spending, over-paying, always broke or behind on bills such as child support or taxes.