How to Avoid Marriage Money Problems
Money continues to be the number one cause for divorce in the U.S. In order to avoid marriage money problems, it pays to sit down and have a serious financial conversation with your new partner. It may not be pretty or exciting, but its something that needs to be done, or you'll pay for it, literally down the road.
Tip 1 on Avoiding Marriage Money Problems Tip: Set Expectations
One of the reasons money is the number one cause for divorce is that people can have very different expectations on lifestyle and how money should be spent. As an initial tip to avoiding marriage money problems, consider the following questions when setting expectations for your financial future with your partner:
- What should your money be spent on, what's essential and what's discretionary
- What are the shared expenses, and what are the expenses that each individual is supposed to account for
- Which accounts should be made joint accounts, and which accounts should be kept separate
- If there is a disparity in income, who should be contributing to what and how much
- How are debts that came into the marriage going to be handled
- Who is actually sitting down and paying the bills
Tip 2 on Avoiding Marriage Money Problems: Plan for a Future
Obviously its hard to predict what the future may hold, but that shouldn't prevent you from sitting down and roughly planning out what it should be. Set goals that you will need to save for and how long you think it should take to save for them now, to avoid marriage money problems later. Constantly revisit this topic, as your expectations and circumstances will change over time. Some basic topics to consider include:
- Will you be buying a house
- Will you be having kids
- Will you be saving for college for any potential kids
- When are you expecting to be retired
- How often would you like to travel
- Will you be modeling or redecorating at some point
- Will you be buying cars
Much of this may be an eye opener as the list of things you and your partner want gets larger, and you can see your money dwindling away to nothing. However, you need to wrap your head around it now, and freak out now, rather than figure it out later when you're buried in debt and your house is in foreclosure.
Tip 3 on Avoiding Marriage Money Problems: Make a Budget
Its number-crunching time, here's where you sit down with your basic predictions of how much money you have coming in (after taxes) and how much all of this should cost. The basic things to include in your budget are:
- Income (salary, business income, property income and investment income)
- Assets (bank accounts, investments, property)
- Debts (mortgages, loans, credit card debts)
- Expenses (rent/mortgage, food, utilities, clothing, transportation, insurance, investment contributions, travel, entertainment, and any other expenditure you'll be making)
Tip 4 on Avoiding Marriage Money Problems: Find a Way to Make it all Work
For young couples, this can be a daunting exercise to get through. So make sure to be honest, patient, and open to compromise. If you can get through this, you'll have overcome the most likely reason to get divorced. Finally, regularly revisit your financial plan to avoid future marriage money problems. You'll often find that your initial assumptions and expectations were wildly inaccurate, so take the time to update your plan before you go any farther.
Get a Free Legal Evaluation
If you have concerns about financial issues relating to marriage the advice of a professional can be invaluable. A lawyer can help you draft a prenuptial agreement, plan for the acquisition of property, and determine tax advantages or liabilities. Contact a local attorney for a free legal evaluation of your situation.