Banking, budgets and bills may seem like the least romantic thing but perhaps the most important thing. A marriage does not join only two individuals and two families; it also involves joining two financial situations, two bank accounts and two sets of debts. With the wedding season in full swing, we want to say a few words on the subject after passing the Yes step, I want it.
Put romance on the back burner
With nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce and a large percentage of Canadians saying that money is the main problem in their marriage. Managing your finances before the wedding is probably the best gift you can give yourself. It’s okay to put romance aside for a moment.
Each couple is different and your financial discussions will be different too. We think that a good rule of thumb is to discuss your finances before you start planning your wedding celebration. Weddings can cost a small fortune and no one wants to start a life together by adding even more debt and financial stress to their relationship.
How to start a conversation?
Openly discussing income, credit card debt and bank account balances can be stressful, intimidating and sometimes uncomfortable. Keep in mind, however, that you are joining two lives together and that you will have to discuss finances for the rest of your life. It’s better to be comfortable with the principle from the start. Here are some questions you should consider if you are having trouble starting a pre-wedding financial discussion.
- How much debt do each of you have? Including credit card debt, personal loans and students.
- Do you want to join your finances completely, share a joint account or keep everything separately?
- Is buying a house important for both of you?
- Can paying for a big wedding be possible in your current financial situation?
- Is paying for a big wedding more important than buying a house in the immediate future?
- Are children part of your plans and how will they affect your financial decisions?
Smart financial discussions and decisions should provide a stable foundation for your marriage.
Maintain a financially healthy relationship
Depending on your relationship and your finances, there are several options for dealing with money attached after saying yes I want it. Generally, here are 4 of the most important concerns you should address and where to find a plan when discussing your financial future together.
A place for your money
We assume that you both have at least a small amount of money in the form of chequing accounts, savings accounts and RRSPs, perhaps even TFSAs. It is totally correct to keep all of this separately. Many couples do the same. What you need to discuss is how you will pay for daily expenses:
- Will you buy a house together, where will the mortgage payments come from?
- Who will pay for the amenities?
- Who will pay for food and other household items?
- Do you both own a car? Or who will make the payments if you share?
A good way to manage all these daily and monthly expenses is to open a joint account. You can keep your respective accounts and simply transfer an agreed amount to your joint account to pay for any expenses you share. This way you will have the best of both worlds.
Common financial goals
The financial goals that you set when you live alone and do not plan to get married may not meet those of your future spouse. It is therefore important to discuss which goals are most important to you and to decide together which ones you will work towards.
- Where do you want your finances to be in the near future?
- Where do you want your finances to be in the future?
- What’s the most important saving for a home, retirement or rainy days?
Make a budget
Now that you know your common financial goals, you need to know how you will achieve them. Creating a budget should help you put a plan into action. You should discuss your spending habits here. Since you are now a team working towards the same goal, it is important to be open and enthusiastic to adjust your previous habits. Make sure both of you are willing to compromise on some expenses or lusts. If one of you feels forced to make more concessions than the other, you may find yourself facing more important issues in the future.
Honesty should always be your policy
We all have our vices and if one of yours is to shop online, go out to eat in five-star restaurants or anything that runs around spending big amounts of money, make sure your spouse knows about it. Finances are already quite stressful without lies; make honesty a priority. In addition, it would be time also to mention any debt that you may have failed to update so far.
Your money, your wedding, your plan
Remember that this is your wedding and your money, so treat the subject the best way together. The worst thing to do is ignore your finances, have only a few discussions, make plans, and start feasting.