When we get engaged, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement. You choose your wedding date, the dress, the destination, and the invitations. You even make sure that you pay close attention to the details like food, the cake, and music selections. But most couples overlook one crucial thing before they walk down the aisle: discussing finances. Here are a few financial mistakes you and your partner should avoid to create a happy marriage.
First, you need to know your partner’s spending habits.
Are they are spender or a saver? If you’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s easy to see how this will cause problems between the two of you. For example, I was the saver and my ex-husband was the spender. He loved to cook gourmet meals on the weekends and would frequently come home from the grocery store and hand me a receipt for $300 (I handled all the money). I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to throw up when I saw what he spent.
But even if you are the spender, you might still be unsatisfied with your partner’s money-hoarding habits. You might think he/she is stingy and isn’t living life to the fullest. It doesn’t matter what your spending habits are. But what does matter is whether you discuss it and come to a mutual agreement – hopefully to meet each other half way.
Next, you shouldn’t keep any financial secrets from your soon-to-be spouse.
If you have multiple checking accounts, secret credit card bills, or student loans, you really should divulge it all. I have a friend whose husband had an online gambling problem. It took her years to figure it out, but she always wondered where all his (and their) money went. When he took out a second mortgage on their house without her permission, she finally wised up and figured out what was going on. So, needless to say, don’t do that to your partner.
You should also sit down together and create a daily budget.
Some people are good at sticking to budgets but others are not. What you really need to do here is agree on how much you will spend on things that aren’t necessities – like entertainment, travel, or savings. The budget is crucial so that you both can become conscious spenders. In other words, you don’t want either of you to go hog wild with the credit card whenever you want. You both need to be conscious of every dollar you spend.
Finally, money needs to be discussed for the long term.
How much are each of you saving for retirement? How much money can you save, and how much should you invest? Should you get a financial advisor? And what about saving for your future children’s college educations? All of those questions need to be answered before you say ‘I do.’
Money problems are one of the top reasons people get divorced. However, it doesn’t have to be. So I strongly suggest you have these real, honest conversations with your significant other so you can avoid these financial mistakes. Because I’m sure neither of you wants to become another divorce statistic. It’s not difficult. It just takes open communication and some team work.
Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. She also tries to imitate Oprah during her regular appearances on the TV show Living Dayton. Although not a world-famous author or speaker yet, she’s working on it. She’s also a single mom of two boys who think she’s a horrible cook. Follow her here on Twitter and Facebook.