Finances are some of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Debt, bills, and big purchases can all be stressful in their own way. If you are engaged and preparing for marriage, it’s important to start talking about your finances. This will better prepare you for money discussions in the future, and it will make the process less stressful as a whole.
In this guide from our Michigan premarital counseling centers, you’ll learn how to talk about money before marriage.
Be Honest About Your Debt
Most people enter a marriage with some form of debt, whether it be outstanding medical bills, student loans or otherwise. If you are planning to marry someone, you need to be honest about your debt. After you get married, the weight of that debt will fall on both your shoulders. Your future spouse needs to be prepared for that. If you do not know the current status of your debts, take a moment to figure that out. That will be an important element of the budgeting process, which we will discuss in a section below.
Be Honest About Your Income
When you started dating your significant other, you may have exaggerated about your income. Now that you’re planning for marriage, it’s time to come clean. Tell your future spouse how much money you make and how those funds are distributed throughout the month. This will give you both a clear idea of what your budget will be after marriage.
Go over the Monthly Budget, Including Every Household Bill You Will Have
If you start your marriage off with a budget, you are far less likely to get stressed about your finances. Budgeting is part of living together. It is something you will do for the rest of your lives. Once you know your income and debts, you can better assess your monthly finances. Tally up all of your bills, including:
- Gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, and other utilities
- Food costs, including eating out and groceries
- Car payments
- Loan payments
- Insurance (house insurance, car insurance, medical insurance, life insurance, etc.)
- Fuel and transportation
- Cable, internet, and phones
If you have other expenses, such as a subscription service or an annual credit card fee, add those to the budget as well. Then use your combined monthly income to determine how much money you will have leftover each month. Use average amounts for bills that fluctuate, like your utilities. Keep estimates on the high end to make sure you have enough money each month. Create a plan for saving or paying down debts quickly, all within your means. If you notice any major issues with the budget, work together to come up with a solution.
Create a Plan for Extra Expenses (Date Nights, Clothes, and Fun Purchases)
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself. You need to have a little fun with your money every now and then. The key is learning how to make those plans without going wild with your money. If you have a small vacation coming up, you might want to eat every meal at home for a few weeks to keep costs down. In a month where your expenses are low, you might be able to splurge with a fancy dinner every Friday. Think about your budget, and plan extra expenses that fit within your means. As long as you remain honest with one another, you can avoid unnecessary debt before marriage.
Keep Your Wedding Costs Down
According to a recent study from Finder.com, 80.6% of couples borrow money for their wedding. The average amount borrowed is $3,082, which adds up to $3.48 billion throughout the country. Whether you want a small wedding or a large one, try to keep your costs as low as possible. This will minimize your debt before marriage, and it will keep the stress low in the household. You deserve to have your ‘big day,’ but you don’t have to spend a big chunk of money making it happen. Every dollar saved is one less burden later on.
Take time to fully discuss your finances before marriage so you can create a plan as a couple. If you need help along the way, talk to your premarital counselor. He or she can guide you through this and other relationship obstacles so you can set yourselves up for success.