Before You Say “I DO”
By Pat Grenier, Contributing Writer
Money is traditionally a socially taboo subject. Money is a private topic - one of the most difficult to discuss. “We don’t talk about money-it isn’t nice, is a message that many people, particularly women, received as they grow up. Our money attitudes are both financial and emotional. Many relationships have been ruined and families have been torn apart due to the differences on how we view money and handle it.
Before you walk down the aisle, the best advice I can give is to be honest and upfront about your values and feelings toward money with your partner. The earlier in the relationship you discuss these issues the better able you will be to handle them and to make a decision about the relationship.
One of the first issues to resolve is how will your assets be kept? Remember that in a marriage yours usually becomes ours. Are you going to comingle your assets, will you have separate checking/saving/investment accounts? How do you feel letting your partner know where you spend your money? Will you maintain a “just mine” checking/saving account to be able to spend some money without feeling that you need to account for every penny and ask for permission? There is no one right answer. Some couples – especially if it is not a first marriage –may want to maintain some independence, keep their assets separate and have a joint account for joint household expenses.
One of the issues that should be discussed is who will handle the day to day financial affairs? It is important to recognize which one has the better skills to keep track of the finances including paying bills, reconciling bank statement and working within a budget or spending plan.
A spending plan should be developed along with how much the couple will save. This may involve saving a percentage of each person’s income if there is income inequality and contributing to common expenses using the same method.
Be honest about the debt you may have incurred. How will you pay for it? How much of the new family budget will paying off your debt represent? Are you a spender? How will you decide what your spending priorities will be?
Many couples are signing prenuptial marriage agreements – once thought of as a death knell for romance. It does not mean that a couple is anticipating divorce. It does put financial expectations out on the table before your wedding.
The pros: It can preserve family ties and inheritance; the financial well-being of children from a previous marriage can be protected as well as personal and business assets accumulated before marriage.
The negatives: They are unromantic; can give the appearance there is a lack of trust; could create resentment; can be set aside for failure to disclose all assets, duress, or lack of representation.
As in most things in life, it is better to be prepared and avoid unpleasant pitfalls later in the relationship.
R. Patricia Grenier, CFP® BRP/Grenier Financial Services
One Monarch Place, Suite 810 Springfield, MA 01144
Securities offered through Cadaret Grant & Co., Inc. member FINRA/SIPC BRP/Grenier Financial Services and Cadaret Grant are separate entities.