Dealing with money matters is rarely romantic but saying “I do” means you are not only planning to share a life but a credit report as well.
Share Your History
Just as you would expect to be told of mental and physical health problems before marriage, one should expect to be told of financial health issues before saying “I do.” If you are an emotional spender, have filed for bankruptcy or have excessive debt, you owe it to your mate to let them know what they are getting into.
Just as in every other aspect of a relationship, communication is the key to maintaining a healthy partnership but the sad truth is that most couples do not sit down and talk about their attitudes towards spending before it’s too late. Sit down with your spouse, pour a couple of glasses of wine and discuss the way each of you manages money in a non-confrontational manner. Once you have a clear understanding of the other’s viewpoint, discuss your bills, your shared dreams and goals and create a realistic budget and agree on it. If you find it helpful, draw up and sign an agreement and pin it on the fridge. Once a month plan a coffee or date where you both will check-in with the other and discuss where you are financially.
Make sure that you both understand that you are sharing a life together and take both of your needs, wants and desires into consideration. Make room for a splurge here and there or consider giving yourselves an “allowance” each month to spend as you see fit.
Don’t Be Deceptive
People lie about all kinds of different things in their lives and they do it for various reasons. When it comes to lying to your partner, it’s usually done out of fear. Maybe you fear your spouse will be angry, will judge or even leave you if they know your truth. What these men and women do not realize is that lies, even when never discovered, corrode the balance and sanctity of your relationship as the person hiding something will act and react to situations differently than if they were being honest. Face your financial fears and lay it on the line. Playing the “ignore it and maybe it will go away” game by hiding mail from your spouse or avoiding touchy topics will only drive you further into debt.
Don’t kid yourself
There is a big difference between saying you mailed a Christmas card and how much you charged on a credit card, or worse, having a “secret” credit card. It’s important you understand the magnitude of the lie and its impact on a marriage. We all know that hopping into bed will place a partner’s emotional, mental and physical health at risk but too few realize that financial infidelity can also destroy your partner’s ability to trust and have a deep effect on their mental and emotional state and their ability to live their best life. Good credit opens doors and irresponsibility locks them for years.
Many men and women find financial discussions and agreements such as sharing credit scores and signing prenuptial agreements “unromantic” and an indication your partner doesn’t love you when really, it’s much like getting a check-up and vaccinations at the doctor’s office. It’s responsible, preventative and necessary.
Being an adult means accepting responsibility for yourself and being a married adult means that you are agreeing to be held accountable for your partner’s financial choices. If your partner is having trouble budgeting or spends to fulfil emotional needs, take steps to help them instead of simply getting angry and shaming them. Consider seeing a therapist and taking a class in budgeting together.
Take a Proactive Approach
Instead of one party relying on the other to “do it all”, take turns handling bill-paying and budgeting or share responsibilities. Place bills in a specified area of the home where both partners can look them over. Order your credit report twice a year and check for inconsistencies. Knowing there is no place in the closet to hide junk can make partner’s think twice before cheating financially.