Moments after the engagement ring slips on, the wedding plans take off.
So if you’re ready for this big step, go ahead and sort through tough money topics now before you get caught up in flower arrangements and cake flavors.
Since Dave’s team of financial coaches helps newly engaged couples every day, we asked them for some expert advice when it comes to love and money. Here’s what they had to say:
Open Up and Be Honest
So you’ve confessed your student loans, credit card debts and car payments. Great! Now keep talking. Discuss your views on money, including what your parents taught you about finances—and what you do and don’t agree with. (Kindly, of course!)
And if you’re coming from a previous marriage, talk about alimony or other expenses you’re bringing into your new union and how to incorporate those into your household budget.
“Marry” Your Accounts
Combining your money into one account is a crucial step in marriage. You are becoming one. Keeping one area separated can lead to other areas separating, and you want to set a precedent of togetherness from the get-go.
Why do you handle money the way you do? Break bad money habits for good.
Working together from a shared account brings honesty, unity and a sense that you’re in it together! Now is the time to mentally prepare for becoming one—financially and otherwise. But don’t sign on the dotted line and join accounts until after you’re man and wife.
Start Budgeting Together
Go ahead and put your combined incomes and expenses on paper, and determine what a typical month is going to look like.
It's good to practice budgeting together once you get engaged. That way, you can make sure things are working smoothly when game time finally comes.
And after the wedding, revisit the budget each month at your budget committee meetings to make adjustments as needed. Be sure to give each other lots of grace as you work out all the kinks.
Make a Plan
Once everything is on the table, determine what Baby Step you are on as a couple. If you were on Baby Step 4 but your bride-to-be is on Baby Step 2, then guess what? You’re on Baby Step 2 now.
But that’s all right. You love this person with all of your heart, so taking “her” debt as “our” debt is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
Most importantly, set priorities together and make a plan for moving through the seven Baby Steps as a team. This includes setting goals for investing, college funds and eventual home ownership.
Put Your Relationship First
Whatever you do, don’t stress. Your relationship is so much more important than facts and figures.
Getting on the same page about money is extremely helpful, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of your union. Just keep that in perspective when you come to the table. And remember, it takes a few tries to get this budgeting stuff right.
As you begin to navigate more and more money issues as a “we,” you’ll probably run into a few bumps along the way. If you reach an impasse, it may be time to bring in a highly qualified financial coach. Dave’s team offers personal, one-on-one counseling to help you and your spouse-to-be develop a plan that actually works. Schedule some time with a financial coach today!
Have a specific marriage and money question? You can ask a coach here and get a free consultation.