Compromise and communication is the most important way to achieve peace when it comes to couples and their cash. Long-term financial goals as well as realistically talking about where you are financially when you meet are all a part of establishing a calm plan for mutual success. Here are some things to discuss once your relationship turns exclusive and serious, to have a successful plan before you ever marry:
1) Don’t exaggerate how well you manage your money or minimize your money problems. Be real and show the facts. Show each other your credit scores (all 3) and your reports way before marriage. Once you marry, these importance facts will affect you!
2) Don’t make one person the only one handling the bills. You each should each pay your own bills and credits cards, and keep things as separate as possible. You can have a mutual fund for joint bills like mortgage and utilities. But everything should be open to each partner, including credit card statements and phone statements. Don’t have any secrets from your partner.
3) Be careful that neither you nor your partner spends more then you make. Live within your means, and stay debt-free each month on your credit cards.
4) Make a plan to fix your credit and pay off your debt in a way that your partner supports. Work on your individual finances and don’t look for your partner to save you. Be sure to put off marriage until you are both debt free and your credit scores are at least over 720. 760 or higher is ideal.
5) Set individual and couple specific goals that each person is excited to meet; like a weekly contribution to a vacation, child’s college fund or retirement fund. Make this plan together and watch your money grow towards your common goals!
6) Once a month discuss your goals about the upcoming month and any money allocation that needs to be made (like the holidays and Christmas gifts). Set a budget for gifts you each will stick with. Make these discussions a team effort.
7) Remember women tend to be more security based, wanting to save money; where men tend to like to see the fruits of their labor, and want to spend on “flashy toys” like cars, gadgets and boats. You will come to resent the other if you do not come to an agreement as to how to spend your mutual money. You must have a compromise between spending and saving. Respect each other’s needs and make a budget that both can be happy with.
8) Talk to each other before making a major purchase and have a limit as to what you can spend while alone. An average limit is $300-500 for an item.
9) Household expenses should not be over 28% of gross income, and other debts like credit cards should not exceed 36% of monthly gross income.
10) Put 15 – 25% of gross income (more as you age) into savings with each paycheck. Any bonus payments put directly into savings or a vacation fund.
11) Do not overspend on credit cards, and what you charge, pay off each month. Use an airline card to save you flight points for your vacations.
12) Men overspend on sporting events, hi-tech items and equipment; where women overspend on clothes and their kids.
13) Have a solid plan to pay bills on time so you don’t have late charges and your credit score wont be affected. You may prefer automatic bill pay for this.
14) Both partners should know their combined assets and debt, how their money is being spent, invested and where. This is true even if one person manages the bill payments and the other oversees the investments. Both need to know where the money is going, and how much is spent each month. 55% of partners hide assets, leading to mistrust and conflict.
15) Separate bank accounts gives a sense of financial freedom, but don’t hide assets. Lying about money sets up a future of distrust and deceit. And without trust, you have no relationship.