Being a couple is challenging enough without bringing money into it. But, if couples talk about their finances and avoid these pitfalls, they can have an easier path to marital bliss.
Not talking about your respective credit reports before marriage
This may not be a topic for a first date, however, before moving in together or planning a wedding, this topic should be addressed.
Not knowing where key documents are
If your spouse were incapacitated would you know where find important information quickly?
Not having an estate plan
One does not need to be wealthy to have an estate plan. Having documents in place before tragedy strikes is important. Having a health care proxy, living will, and power of attorney can go a long way in making a surviving spouse’s life easier during a very stressful time.
Combining all money
Combining all money may not be the best idea. The three pots of money concept can work for many. Have a joint account where household bills get paid from as well as you each having your own individual, discretionary spending account can be a good medium. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be disclosure as to what you spend personally.
Combining one’s debt with your spouse can be a big mistake. A stellar credit report can become tainted by combining or signing on for new debt with a spouse with a not-so-perfect credit score.
Having secrets surrounding money, power struggles and differing money styles
Keeping secrets about debt or spending habits can have devastating effects in a marriage. It is best to come clean early on to avoid conflict later.
Not having an emergency fund
By having three to six months of expenses set aside, most couples can avoid the strain of who should pay for what when an emergency strikes.
Not seeking professional help
Know when to get help for marital and financial problems is important and can stop fights from happening.
Not having an agreed upon budget
If all agreed upon expenses are covered each month, then one will tend to flip out less when the other spends money on a personal item.
Communicating on mutual financial goals is the key to financial marital wellness.
Rick Fingerman is a member and past president of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts and currently holds the position of liaison with Dana Farber Cancer Institute. www.fpama.org