Money Matters

I’m always on the alert for wedding-related topics in the news so last week, when the local CBS station did a promo on “The Bridal Prenup” and CNN featured a “Love, Marriage and Money” segment, my TiVo went into overdrive. After all, it is my job to keep abreast of the latest bridal buzz 24/7 for you!

 “The Bridal Prenup” piece was interesting. Apparently, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, it’s not just the Britney Spears and Nicole Kidmans of the world asking their future hubbys to sign on the dotted line. Now it seems that the “average woman of all ages and means” are initiating prenups. The report said that many brides-to-be are marrying for the second or third time and may have considerable assets after having worked for a number of years. They want to safeguard what they have and perhaps protect the future inheritance of their children or grandchildren from a previous marriage. Which, of course, raises the question: Is this practical or do prenuptial agreements indicate a basic mistrust of the fiancé or perhaps of marriage itself? I’m sure most of you haven’t even entertained the idea and I believe that there are many factors that enter into such a decision. For most first-time couples it is simply not an issue but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

The second news feature on CNN discussed the damage that little white lies about money can do to a marriage. According to their survey, 31% have lied to a spouse about money, 67% said the lying then caused an argument and 16% divorced as a result of money problems. Bottom line: Serious debt can ruin a marriage and research from Utah State University confirms that when couples are $10,000 dollars in debt with no assets they are twice as likely to eventually divorce.

OK, not a sexy topic, I know, but it is something to think about as you plan your life together. Have the money talk with your fiancé now. If you’re a spender and he’s a saver you still need to be on the same page as far as your financial goals and dreams.

  1. Decide on how money will be handled in your household.
  2. Will you have a joint account or separate accounts?
  3. Who will handle the bill paying?
  4. How much money do you want to save on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis to meet your goals?Agree to pay off all credit card debt first and then take a look at other expenses such as student loans or mortgages.
  5. Come up with a plan that you can both agree on and stick to it.
  6. Be open and honest about your spending throughout your marriage. Agree to meet regularly to review bills and go over your bank and other financial statements. This will help both of you determine where you might be able to cut back (too many dinners out, for example) and how you can save more.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that you both share the same financial values and goals. Alleviating money stress in a marriage is huge and you’ll be able to enjoy what you have so much more. Start practicing your financial and communication skills as you plan for your wedding. Set a budget for the big day and work together on figuring out how to save and where to allocate your money. Teamwork is everything!

—Diane Forden, Editor in Chief