It seems that I've known June is "wedding month" since I was a little girl. And, in fact, a bit of research reveals that the June wedding tradition goes back as far as the Romans.
As I think of all the soon-to-be married couples who ask me for tips on how best to manage their soon-to-be joint finances, I wonder how far back couples started having traditional money problems - those little issues that soon can turn into a big headache and an even bigger heartache.
It's interesting that no matter how differently we define our modern relationships, both within and outside of marriage, things like handling wealth take on the same importance generation after generation. So whether you (or a family member) are a traditionalist planning to tie the knot this June or are charting your own course with the one you love, some good old-fashioned financial advice now can help make your ongoing relationship more smoother down the road.
GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER FINANCIALLY
The adage "opposites attract" can apply to money attitudes as much as anything else. So it's important to start with a frank discussion about your approach to money. How different are you? Is one person a saver and the other a spender? How do you handle credit and debt? How about the issue of control? What are your individual financial goals?
Answering these questions upfront will lay the foundation for greater mutual understanding. When it comes to money, you're not only dealing with numbers, you're dealing with feelings.
Then once you've discussed your feelings, get practical. Make sure you know everything you should about each other's finances, including assets, income, investments, money history, debts and business dealings. How closely you merge your financial lives is up to you, but to make a smooth financial marriage you have to be as completely honest and open about your money as you are about everything else.
PUTTING A PLAN IN PLACE
From handling daily financial obligations to planning and saving for a home, children and retirement, the more clearly you state your desires and the more precise you are about roles and responsibilities, the smoother your financial relationship will be. While you may have shared certain expenses in the past, as you look to your future the bigger issues of saving and investing assume greater significance. Developing a plan will help you come to some agreements as well as sticking to your goals.
Here are some important things to consider: