Earlier this year, I wrote a post sharing my one tip for success with financial goals that you set in your marriage. In the comments of that post, Bailey (from Becoming Bailey) and I started having a conversation about how she and her fiance (now husband) had been setting financial goals together. That conversation got us talking about the extent that they've been involved in each other's finances and when Joe and I combined our finances and bank accounts. It got me thinking about how involved a couple should be in each other's financial decisions before marriage and how soon you start those discussions and get involved.
Looking back, I think Joe and I had our first official money discussion a little less than two months after we started dating, right around the time when we started talking about the future of our relationship. I'm sure money came up in our conversations before that point and we probably talked about our opinions on debt, credit cards, spending, etc. because that's just the type of people we are, but our first real, serious discussion came when we started to talk about how finances would affect our marriage timeline. We talked about Joe's lawn care business that he planned on starting, my school tuition, our current employment situations, and everything else that would affect our income, savings and financial stability if we were to get married. That discussion led to us deciding that it made the most sense logically to get married in the fall, but obviously that timeline changed a bit, since we ended up getting married in June.
I wouldn't suggest combining your bank accounts or finances before you've tied the knot, but I do suggest that you make finances and money a part of your conversations together as soon as you know that your relationship is headed for marriage, and possibly even before that. I've shared my thoughts on what financial discussions you should have before you get married here on the blog before, but I'd like to add these to the list!
Any current debt and your plan to get rid of it
I've heard often that you shouldn't get married to someone who has debt, and I'm not sure that I agree with that. Joe and I both had debt going into our marriage, but we'd talked about it and we knew how we wanted to handle that debt. I owed money on the car I bought the summer before and Joe took out a couple of loans to start his lawn care business just a few months before we got married. The amount that we each owed and for what was no secret, we were open and honest about it from the beginning. But we were determined to pay it off quickly and remain debt free after we had. Because we'd discussed it early in our relationship and continued to discuss it often, we were able to tackle our combined debt as a team and pay it off within a year and a half of getting married.
Your future budget
When Joe and I first discussed our money, it was to look at our income and what expenses we would have after we got married and what we needed to do to be able to afford our budget. I think this is an important thing to do together, especially after you're engaged! Because we walked through a potential budget together, we were able to boost our income and get married in the timeline we wanted. We also were able to put together a plan to pay off our debts quickly. By putting together a plan and a budget, we knew how much we could afford for rent, how many classes I should take a semester, and how much money we'd be putting into savings each month after all of our other expenses. It may not be a final budget, budgets tend to change month-to-month anyway, but having a basic idea will make a big difference when you are married and combine your finances.
Any big financial goals that you have
Money and finances are a constant in life and there are always new challenges to tackle. Joe and I knew, going into marriage, that we had a few goals for the future of our money. We wanted to put me through school without student loans, we wanted to be debt free with the exception of our house and we knew that we wanted to get a 15-year on our home. One of our other big goals was to follow Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps. The big goals that we've both had for our finances have dictated all of the little money decisions that we made and given us direction for our budget and given us something to work toward together from the beginning. We just recently sat down and set goals for the next five years of our marriage and two of those involve a couple of our biggest financial goals.
Big purchases you make
Even though we didn't combine our finances until after we were married, after we started talking marriage, we started discussing all big purchases that we made. Joe talked to me about the details of each of the purchases that he was making for his new business, and he always asked for my approval as well. I remember that I even gave Joe a heads up before I replaced my cracked windshield. I knew that Joe was working hard to save for my ring and we were both saving for our future together and all of the adult expenses that we were about to take on. So even though our money was our own to do with as we pleased, it felt wrong not to discuss any big purchases before we made them, no matter what they were.
The biggest thing about your financial involvement before marriage is that you should talk about your money! Disagreements surrounding the topic are one of the most noted reasons for divorce among couples. The more comfortable you are talking about and being involved in your finances together, the better off your marriage will be! No matter what you decide to do with your money while you are dating, engaged and leading up to the wedding, make sure that you do everything you can to make sure you are on the same page!
Is there anything else you would add to the list or that you talked about together before marriage?