Marriage and Money

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

One of the most common reasons women call me up is that they are dissatisfied with the way their husbands handle finances. They would therefore like to learn more, so that they can take over this crucial part of the household management. I had three of those calls just this morning!

It is true indeed that the topic of money always land near the top in surveys about what makes couples fight – and ultimately split. The good news is, much of this damage is preventable. Even more so if you address the following topics before you walk down the aisle.

  1. Financial goals. What are your expectations for the future in terms of wealth, work-life balance, retirement, etc? Don’t be alarmed if your hubby-to-be’s goals differ slightly from yours. This is normal – and natural. As long as you are aware of where your partner stands, you can make compromises that you are both comfortable with.
  2. Financial freedom. Some couples merge everything from their credit cards and bank accounts to stock trading accounts and Blockbuster cards. Others keep their finances separate to avoid fights about different spending habits. Still others keep a joint account for household expenses, and the rest separate. Find the solution that works the best for you.
  3. Existing debt. In today’s society, few people are completely in the black. A bit of debt is therefore not a red flag, as long as you can craft and commit to a plan to eliminate it.
  4. Risk tolerance. If you prefer CDs and bonds while your husband likes to speculate with biotech stocks, chances are you will end up hating each other before you know it. Find a compromise that works for both of you – and stick to it.

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