Did you or a friend get engaged during the holiday season? CONGRATULATIONS! It's a wonderful time in your life and no one knows better to advise you on how to keep it together than someone who routinely works with Married couples as things fall apart.
Here are the Top 7 things Divorced people wish they'd addressed with their spouses before they got married (or early on):
1. When the two of you can't come to an agreement, how will you solve the problem? This is a big one. I can't say that I have the answer to this, therapy might help, but I can say that couples find it helpful to have a financial planner involved because they have a neutral 3rd party who can help you each get to a decision when you have a difficult money decision to make. You never know, there may be a 3rd option that's not being considered. I promise you, you'll find as many articles on the internet as they do that support your idea, just get a neutral 3rd party involved.
2. What's your philosophy on Debt & Credit Cards? Do you usually carry a balance? or pay in full? Also, is one or both of you working on paying off credit card debt. if so, how much of a priority is it to you/them?
3. Who will be in charge of paying the bills? In most couples, there's a yin & yang. Usually just one of you will want to wear the CFO badge for your family. Keep in mind that being the non-CFO spouse does not absolve you from being involved with the household finances. I find the most successful couples are talking about money at least once/month or having a weekly check-in.
4. What's your credit score? oh, and how did it get here? Good or bad, there are a set of habits in place that are good to understand about your future spouse.
5. How are we planning to set up checking accounts? Should we put all the money in one account and give ourselves an allowance? or will we continue to pay things separately? Will we pay 50/50 or a percentage relative to how much revenue we bring to the relationship?
6. How much do you have saved? For an emergency? For retirement? Do you consider yourself a good saver? Is saving a priority for you?
7. How do we decide how much to save and/or invest? This is especially important when it comes to retirement savings for a non-working spouse. Did you know you could contribute to an IRA for the stay-at-home spouse? Yes, you can! Think of how much happier & confident her/or she would feel knowing their retirement savings is growing in addition to your 401k.
BONUS: Do we need a prenup? I made this as a bonus because it's not common that people need them, however, if you're a business owner, have family money, or are getting married later in life, this may be something to talk to your family law attorney & future spouse about. A prenuptial agreement isn't 'jinxing' your marriage. It's just making clear who owns what from the start so there's no fogginess over what might happen if there was a split. My personal philosophy is things that you plan for are less likely to happen. Have you ever noticed that emergencies only come up when you don't have money or it's wildly inconvenient to deal with them?
Although Divorce is a specialty area of mine I do work with nearly as many newly married couples as I do divorces in a year. It's truly an honor and a joy to help two people come together. And as many of us are getting married & re-married later in life, it's becoming more important than ever to have these conversations.
I'd love to chat with you about Financial Planning. Schedule your Free Consultation Here.
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