The topic of money - so taboo, right?! Money means security to some, money means status for others. Humans hold it with such esteem, and if things go south with money, all seems to go south.
You've probably heard the statistics of finances being the leading cause in divorce. The reality of 50% of couples backing out of marriage is heartbreaking, and most of the time it's over money issues. As a wedding photographer, I've been called to pray for each of my couples' marriages, even beyond their wedding day. Marriage is a seriously beautiful thing and I want to see each couple last forever.
Two imperfect people with different opinions, thoughts, and ideas merge their lives. Easy, right?! ;)
Tay and I are young and we've only been married for 9 months, so we're obviously not the most seasoned married couple. However, we have the advantage of having prepared for marriage financially with incredible mentors and family members not too long ago. So, here are some tidbits of advice from a newlywed couple. If anything, we hope to get the conversation started for you two.
Today, I'm here to give you some ideas on how to start preparing yourselves financially as you step into the journey of marriage.
1. Have a conversation about your views on money.
- What is the main purpose of money? Is it for status or security? Is it to save for future emergencies? Is it not a big deal to spend? Or is it a big deal to spend?
- What could you not go without spending money on in a month?
2. Monitor your success with money.
- Do you feel you personally have done a good job dealing with money in the past? Why/why not? If your future/current spouse thinks otherwise, listen to their reasons of why or why not. Honestly + patiently hear them out; don't allow this to become a yelling match. Address the insecurities before they take control of your marriage.
3. Set a budget.
When Taylor and I were engaged, we sat down and wrote down all of the non-negotiables, such as utilities, groceries, etc. We penciled in numbers for each category of a budget and got an idea of how we could manage our money as newlyweds. Then, right after we got back from our honeymoon, we sat down to set a real budget based on what we were making in that season.
It's important to manage your budget based on each season of life. I recommend looking at it monthly to see if there will be any changes.
Thankfully, both of us have similar views on money, but there have been times when he wanted to invest in his music, and I wanted to invest in something for photography.
Something that's really worked for us is to have a Taylor Fun Money and Ali Fun Money category in our budget. That way, although we have a joint account, we can still make our own decisions on less important things such as a new pair of shoes.
4. Decide what your money handling will look like.
Will you have a joint account or separate accounts? Will both of you keep track of your finances? Is one of you more detail oriented than the other? Will someone take care of day-to-day finances and the other take care of bigger financial decisions? A lot of times, finances are an issue in marriage because of power and trust. One spouse feels the other is taking too much control over the finances, so they feel powerless. It's important to agree on this early on and see what works for you two.
5. Talk about your financial status.
If you're not a couple who talks about money openly, it's extremely important that you do. Tell your future spouse what debts you have if you haven't already. Talk about your plan for paying these debts off. Be honest with one another, because it'll come out eventually down the road.
6. Find marriage mentors.
This can be your parents, a couple who has been married longer than you, your cousin, etc. Having people you trust to seek advice from when you can't seem to agree on something will not only give you a different perspective, but help you stop arguments in their tracks. For Taylor and I, people who have been helpful for us are his parents, the pastor from our wedding, and friends.
These questions should put you on the same page as you start your lives together financially. If you feel you or your future spouse is not on the right page financially, here are a few steps you can take:
- Be honest and patient with them. Voice your concerns, and suggest ways to better manage finances (humbly, of course).
- Talk with a married couple you look up to.
- Talk with a banker.
- Take a finance class at a local church or in the community. I highly recommend taking Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.
- Talk to friends who are already married. See what advice they would have for you.
I hope this has been helpful! We are rooting for you as you step into this new chapter of your lives together. If you have any questions, we'd be happy to help find answers for you. Comment them below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.