Finances. Neither fun or sexy, probably anxiety inducing, and usually confusing. Whether you elope or have a traditional wedding you may have some post-wedding dreams like buying a house or car. Even if you have lived together for a while you are now financially married, what’s hers is yours and vice versa (spending, debt, and bad habits included). There are definitely conversations that need to happen before you take the plunge, and a few financial blunders you can try to avoid after the fact.
Honesty. Credit card debt and student loans need to be all on the table. You can avoid a lot of embarrassment and arguments if you are clear about your poor credit with your spouse before getting denied for a big purchase. Money secrets will leave you feeling guilty and anxious and your partner resentful. It is way better to have frank discussions and a few arguments over money than trying to keep it a secret. Even if you have big intentions of paying it off before your partner ever finds out, you won’t.
Talk about it. Open discussions are necessary to make sure you are both on the same page. You may both have grown up being taught different priorities as far as finances goes. You both have money habits that can positively or negatively effect the other person. Keep an open dialogue so it does not become taboo and awkward to bring up. Make time to do it, like a biweekly coffee or lunch that is dedicated to money talk.
Be realistic. This was a big one for us. We moved to the most expensive city in Canada. Average housing prices in Vancouver are $800,00 – $900,000. I cannot remember the last time I saw a single detached home listed for under 1 million dollars. That’s insane! My future aspirations took a big reality check. I grew up thinking a big house with a yard is the ultimate goal, and the thought of renting at 30 years old seemed like a big failure. On the other hand, I also do not want to be house poor. I have money for travel and leisure that wouldn’t be possible if I was drowning in mortgage debt. My dreams of the white picket fence have shifted to a two bedroom with in-suite laundry.
Do it together. Probably one if you is super diligent about finances getting their taxes done in February and recording each purchase, and one of you may be more relaxed, not exactly knowing how much is in your checking account at any one time. Don’t expect your partner to adopt your point of view but try to meet in the middle. Also, don’t let one person completely control the finances. You both need to know what is going on in the money department, what your bills, expenses, and investments are. In the terrible and unlikely event you find yourselves not together anymore, you need the knowledge and organization to take care of yourself.
Finances can be such a huge area of contention for couples. Have some good ol’ adult conversations about money and keep your wallet and your relationship on track!