By: Sammi Coppedge, Marketing Assistant
You have everything planned including the white dress, the black tux and the venue. Yes, your wedding day is perfectly thought out and you’ve discussed every detail. However, what many newlyweds fail to discuss is their finances. When you get married, you marry everything about the other person; including their debts, financial skills and bank account. Sixty-five percent of couples argue about their finances on a regular basis, according to a survey done by manilla.com. It is important to discuss your finances before your get married and throughout your marriage in order to stay on the right financial track.
To help you and your spouse, we have created a list of the top 5 financial mistakes that every married couple makes:
1. Not realizing that their debt is now your debt
One common mistake that married couples make, especially newlyweds, is not realizing how your spouse’s debt will affect you. Although you and your spouse will have individual credit scores, their debt could still affect you when it comes to applying for mortgages, car loans, or credit cards, really anytime you apply for a joint-loan. Not to mention, most couples do not keep their finances separate. Therefore, if your spouse has debt, chances are your income will now help pay off their debt expenses.
Pro Tip: The best thing to do in this sort of situation is to work towards paying down their debt as quickly as possible. It is also a good idea to sit down with your spouse and have an honest and open conversation about their debts and create a plan of action to combat the problem.
2. Keeping money habits a secret
One of the worst financial mentalities to have in marriage is thinking that hiding secrets about money will not affect your spouse. Big financial secrets can ruin a marriage. There is a substantial difference between hiding the purchase of a new pair of shoes and a spouse hoarding thousands of dollars. So, the best policy is to be honest about your purchases and where and how you are spending your money.
Pro Tip: Do not hide purchases or spending habits from your spouse. Instead, make sure you create a financial plan and stick to it. Regular financial check-ups between you and your spouse can also help with avoiding financial secrets.
3. Not determining who is responsible for what bills
Many couples make the mistake of not explicitly outlining who is responsible for what bill. Organization and preparation are key here. You cannot just assume that your spouse will pay the bills and vice versa. Having a late fee because you thought your spouse was going to pay the bill could ultimately cause a lot of problems and arguments in a marriage.
Pro Tip: From the start of your marriage, make sure you sit down and clearly decide who will be responsible for which bill and payment. Make a plan and stick to it.
4. Putting one person in charge of the money only
One of the biggest mistakes a couple can make is delegating the finances to one spouse only. Although it is normal to delegate certain tasks to one spouse, if only one person handles the finances it could mean trouble for the other. A marriage should be an equal partnership. If one spouse has complete control over the finances, then the other will always feel obligated to ask permission to make purchases, even simple guilty pleasures like lipstick or an iced coffee. Then, in the case of a break-up, the other person has no idea how to manage their finances.
Pro Tip: Take care of finances as an equal partnership. Maybe on partner is responsible for paying all of the bills, but there should still be a free flow of communication and ability to make purchases freely. After all, if both you and your spouse are contributing to your total household income, then some of the money you will spend will be your own.
5. Not creating shared financial goals
All-in-all, when you get married your finances become shared. Therefore, it is important to create shared financial goals in order to be on the same page about finances. Whether your goal is to pay off student loans, save up to purchase a new home, or to start investing, make sure that you are both reaching towards the same financial goals.
Pro Tip: Determine what accomplishments you would like to achieve in the next decade or so. Do those accomplishments include a new home or a new car? Do you want to save up for your child’s college education? Find common ground with your spouse and develop a plan of how to reach those financial goals. You can also check out our “Strive to Thrive” financial counseling program, which could help you and your spouse to figure out your finances with the help of a professional.