- STIFEL COLUMN: Getting married? Be sure to talk about your finances before tying the knot
STIFEL COLUMN: Getting married? Be sure to talk about your finances before tying the knot
on Tuesday, 03 March 2020. Posted in Opinions
By: John Brand
Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, with dozens of important decisions to be made before the big day. During such a hectic time, most couples spend more time on things like picking out a China pattern than they do talking about their finances. However, if you’re about to tie the knot, it’s a good idea to have a frank and honest discussion about money with your future spouse so you can start your marriage off on the right foot.
According to a recent survey from the American Institute of CPAs, financial matters are the most common source of conflict among American couples. Unexpected expenses, mounting debt, problems stemming from inadequate savings, and inability to prioritize needs versus wants are just a few of the financial issues that can put stress on a relationship. Do you know how your philosophy on saving and spending differs from that of your partner? Do you know if he or she has good or bad financial habits? Answering these questions now can help prevent stressful moments down the road.
As you begin your life together, an important first step is to establish a budget. Taking a complete inventory of your combined monthly income and expenses will give you a clear idea of your total financial picture. Be sure to be up front about the amount of debt you’ll each be bringing to the marriage, including student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc., since they will soon be your joint responsibility. You may even want to consider ordering credit reports for yourselves in order to avoid any surprises.
Once you have a handle on your cash flow, determine who will pay the bills, and establish ground rules for purchasing big-ticket items. You’ll also need to decide whether to combine your checking accounts or keep them separate. You may even find it best to develop a hybrid solution, maintaining a joint account to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, and other monthly expenses, and individual accounts for personal, discretionary spending. Every couple is different, so choose the option that works best for you.
With your budget in place, it’s time to talk about your financial future together. Where do you see yourselves in 10, 20, or 30 years? Are children in your future? Do you have an emergency fund in place? Is it time to start saving for a down payment on a house? Have you already set up retirement accounts?
Make plans to revisit your finances on a monthly – or even weekly – basis. Regularly setting aside time to talk about your financial situation can help strengthen your relationship and keep you focused on your goals.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. A professional financial advisor can provide clear, objective advice and help you work toward your goals.
Article provided by Frank J. “John” Brand III, a Financial Advisor with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, member SIPC and New York Stock Exchange, who can be contacted in the Florence office at (843) 679-4096 or toll-free at (866) 850-6995.