For Richer or Poorer
If you are planning on getting married, one of the best things you can do is take the time to get your finances in order before you walk down the aisle. You may not think of marriage as a financial commitment, but that’s exactly what it is. Soon you’ll be signing up for joint bank accounts, putting another name on your credit card and even filing a new type of tax return.
It’s a big adjustment, especially for those of us who are used to having complete control over our finances. You can ease into it by making some changes now instead of later. By doing a few simple things to make the transition a bit smoother for you and your spouse, you can work together to create the financial future you both envision.
Start saving early
It is never too early to start thinking about retirement. If you are working for a company that has a 401k or other retirement option, then you need to take advantage of this as soon as possible. Starting your portfolio even one year sooner can have a huge impact in the long term. If these options don’t exist at your job, then find a financial planner you can work with to help you to set up a long-term plan and invest your money wisely.
Why is this important? One of the best things that you can do for your marriage is to ensure your financial future – to make sure you and your spouse not only have the chance to retire, but that you have the chance to enjoy it as well.
Cut down on spending
Even if you are in good financial shape, it is a good idea to cut back on your spending before you get married, which usually means looking at big ticket items such as a house, a car, furniture or even a honeymoon. It’s never a bad idea to have some extra cash on hand.
You also need to start preparing for the fact that you now have another person to consider. No longer is all of your paycheque used for whatever you please. You now have to think about your spouse’s wants and needs as well. If you expect your spouse to be respectful of you, then the least you can do is return the favour.
Pay off debts
Marriage is hard enough without the two of you fighting about money every time you turn around. Do your best to come into your marriage with a clean slate. It may not be possible for you to pay off all of your debts, but do the best you can. The better your credit, the better your interest rate.
Also, think about it this way. How would you feel about spending the next five to 10 years paying off debt that your spouse incurred while single? You’d probably not be very happy and chances are your spouse wouldn’t like it much either – especially if coming into the marriage debt-free.
Entering into a new marriage should be a fun and exciting time for any couple, so don’t let financial woes burden you. One of the biggest adjustments most couples have to make is to let another person into their finances. Being proactive and learning to think about your spouse in this way before you get married can save you a lot of headaches in the future. It may be a bit of an adjustment, but trust me when I say that it will be worth it in the long run! W
Compiled by R. Legault with source files from www.marriagefinances.com, and Ottawa Wedding Magazine files.