One of my 2015 goals is to read through and put into practice a book called ‘Praying For Your Future Spouse’. Keeping with that theme I thought this would be a good time to ask some questions of couples I know and love. I’m taking in this advice in hopes that it will help me pray realistically and creatively for my future spouse and myself this year. Also, the more wisdom you can soak up in advance the better, right?
So first up I asked some of my favorite couples what financial advice they would give me about this season of life (dating) that I could put into practice now as well as what I should know as I move towards or into a marriage eventually. They didn’t disappoint. I do want to preface this by saying that I’m not using any names. Also, I did try to get a wide range of opinions from people who got married young, a former single mom (now married), people who got married later in life, single and double income households, people my age and people older, couples with kids and some without, etc. Please note I took some liberties in wording these (instead of typing out word for word their texts or the conversations).
Here’s what they gave me:
1: Make sure whomever you marry doesn’t have a lot of debt and if they do, try to get them to take care of that before marriage. My husband and I rarely fight but when we do it is primarily over money and the stress that it causes. Also, make sure that you are on the same page with a budget and that you know each others spending personalities. I should say don’t spend above your means with a wedding but I did and it was worth it – it was the best day of my life.
Also, go into marriage with the thought that whatever both of you earn becomes your money as a couple, regardless if both of you work. When you get married the two become one and that includes income.
2: Talk about money a lot, work on getting on the same page. We had no grid for combining everything and having one account – one of us wanted too, one of us didn’t. We finally decided starting with the wedding: everything was ours. No my part and your part. We don’t have anything under one name and not the other. And we both have all the passwords. This doesn’t go with what we learned in Dave Ramsey – but I would also say start saving for retirement now, at least a little bit each (if you’re two income).
One of the best things we’ve done is save up a month of our income so that we are budgeting and spending last month’s money while this month’s goes in to pay for the next. So we always have a full months income in our accounts. That has been a huge help for us. We also decide at the beginning of every year what to do with our extra four paychecks – since we budget for 4 paychecks a month but we’re both paid every other week.
3: Taking into account what I already know about the things you’ve already done or are doing financially there’s not much I would tell you – you’re in way better shape then I was before I got married. But I will say that when you have a family your priorities change. I would suggest thinking about and preparing a way for you to stay home with kids if you decide you have them and you want too. That’s not something you can decide and immediately do – it usually takes planning. The earlier you plan for that the better, even if you don’t end up wanting/needing too use the plan.
4. Be honest. Don’t hide any debt or spending from each other. Be realistic – know that neither of you is going to completely go without spending on something that’s been a big priority for you as a single and don’t try to ban them, just create boundaries, reasonable ones.
5. Make sure you’re on the same page philosophically about money. They say it is one of the top things fought about in marriage but we never have because we’re like-minded. While you’re single be conservative fiscally. Pay off debt if you have it. Have an emergency fund and save for future cars. We’ve paid ourselves monthly until we need a car and then paid cash. Prioritize your money – like tithing. How much and will it be before taxes? Making sure you’re on the same page is essential.
Another thought: figure out who will handle the finances (primarily). Someone told us early that we should decide on a dollar amount early that we wouldn’t spend over without talking and praying about it. Early on that really helped us; we haven’t done that as much in later years and after income increases.
Lastly, having different perspectives on money as a couple will definitely be a hurdle but it’s not a showstopper. The big thing I would suggest is making sure you both get debt free before you get married, even if that means taking a second job.
Ok this is Becca again. This wisdom and advice was just too good not to share with you all. In fact, I’m thinking this won’t be the last time I share the advice of people smarter than me on this blog this year but this financial advice seemed like the perfect way to open 2015 on the blog. I would actually LOVE to hear your advice as well no matter where you’re at currently or where you hope to head. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com