After saying ‘I do’, there are now more things to consider past the courting phase. As you begin preparing for your special day, take time to think about what happens after that. As I’ve heard many married couples say, the real deal begins after exchanging your wedding vows.
One of the most touchy issues is that of finances. While there are couples out there who manage their finances separately and successfully, some of you out there are wondering if you should do a merge. If that is so, you will need some fast advice to get you going.
#1: SET DATES
To decide if you should do a merge, full disclosure is needed. This means hiding nothing and having an honest discussion. Laying everything out on the table helps you and your partner to see where both of you are at in terms of money management.
The most obvious thing to discuss is the shared expenses for the house. We’re talking about things like the mortgage, various monthly bills, and even weekly spending groceries. A 50-50 might do the trick if both of you guys are receiving the same paycheck. But that’s usually not the case. Thus, maybe a monthly contribution of a fixed percentage of your income might work?
There’s also the question of raising kids in the future. An extra person or two will cost and this is another major topic on its own. We know one sit-down session won’t work with so much to decide. Thus, set dates. Make sure you allocate enough time to go through the nitty-gritty. Rushing through the conversations will only hurt later.
#2: SHARE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATIONS
‘For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.’ That’s one of the common marriage vows exchanged on the most important day. To do so, you will need to walk the talk and get down and dirty with your financial situations.
Apart from salaries and bonuses, there’s also the topic of debt and other large expenses unknown to your partner. Now’s the best time to share your financial plans and future goals as well. What are the steps you or your partner are taking to pay off the debt? Will this affect your early years of marriage? Can either of you make compromises?
Let’s not forget routines! Is an annual trip to Europe feasible? Or can you two only afford a staycation at the moment? Talk about habits like the frequency of dining out per week and any expensive hobbies you might have.
#3: COME UP WITH A STRATEGY
This is the final stage should you decide to merge your finances with your partner. After the sharing sessions and much pondering, it’s time to come up with a long-term strategy.
How will the merge be like? Are we talking about shared bank accounts and credit cards? If that’s the case, you may consider having one shared bank account. This account can be a place for crediting an agreed percentage of your salary and also withdrawals for shared expenses for the family.
After reviewing your strategy and realizing you guys have enough money for investment? Go ahead and discuss if the both of you should open up an investment account. Also, decide upfront who will be the main person managing the funds for investment. It’s also important to do a yearly review of your strategy.
We’re honestly just scratching the surface with some of these questions. As each couple is unique, there may be other unique issues that need to be brought up. Also, you and your partner must be aware that bickering might arise while going through this entire process. If required, allow yourself some ‘time-out’. Nothing said in the heat of the moment is rational.