It’s summer and a ton of my friends are getting married. Most are still relatively young ranging from ages 20 to 25 but I guess it’s that time time of life for us now. I’m in the same boat and will be asking my girlfriend of nine months to marry me soon. While it is exciting, we must remember to ask ourselves whether or not we’re financially ready for marriage. It’s a necessary question too many couples ignore choosing instead to rush in unprepared only to find their lack of financial preparation usually leads to marital money problems.
There are basic principles young people should follow but in the end it comes down to marrying the right person. Wise financial management is important and you should look for the similar habits in a potential spouse. Thankfully God blessed me with someone just as frugal as myself who understands wealth is built through hard work.
If you find someone who has the same views about money as you do, don’t postpone marriage even if one person has a substantial amount of debt. Follow these principles and you will be able to get through anything together.
Rule 1: Hold nothing back
It’s oh so critical to disclose everything about your finances – be sure to lay it all out there. Doing so will increase trust and allow each of you to better prepare for the upcoming challenges of marital finances.
Rule 2: Don’t share accounts quite yet
Never share accounts until you’re married. You’re not married yet so don’t act married. Never rush in, anything could happen. If you shared your PIN number with your fiance and then a terrible breakup happened, do you really want the other person to have access to your checking and savings accounts? Engagement is a step above dating, but it’s not marriage yet! You are only fully committed when you say “I do” on your wedding day.
Rule 3: Learn together
If you need more education on finances don’t lose hope, just use every financial challenge as a chance to learn. Marriage will present you with a lot of new financial situations, handle them together to grow in knowledge and love for each other. There are also plenty of excellent resources that are both fun and educational. You could read personal finance blogs together and discuss what you’ve learned or even take Dave Ramsey’s FPU program together (which I highly recommend.) Whatever you end up doing, treat it as a team exercise and bounce ideas off of each other.
Rule 4: Share your vision and be willing to grow
Discover each other’s core financial values and talk about what you want out of life. Share your goals and dreams including what type of home you want, whether you want kids, what hobbies will your family be involved in, how often will you splurge, etc. Make a list of all these things and formulate a rough budget to give you and idea of how much you need to earn to reach your goals. All this should be discussed before you’re married. Don’t let finances be a wall between the two of you. Start early and work together to envision money properly – as a tool given you by God to find and live your mission.
If the goal is money harmony, using these financial rules will help you get there. Don’t wait for things to happen, take an active approach and talk everything over. The sooner you do, the smoother the transition to marriage will be.
Finances are the number cause of divorce so be sure to nail this down before tying the knot to help ensure a strong and lasting marriage!