Couples getting married usually don’t take the time for pre-marital financial counseling. Yet much of the friction in marriage stems from different financial perspectives, and handling money is often a factor in divorce.
People may think financial planning is unromantic, but romance is only a part of day-to-day marriage. Marriage is not primarily gazing into each others’ eyes. Marriage is as much a business merger as any corporate contract you can sign. For those who believe financial planning is unromantic, consider which is more romantic: having saved enough to cruise in the Bahamas or telling your spouse they need to tighten their daily spending!
For many, finances are a taboo subject. Often engaged couples do not know what their fiancé earns, nor how much savings or debt they have accumulated. Most couples have ingrained emotions and expectations about financial matters that they unconsciously project onto others. Blended families face even more financial issues than first-time newlyweds, for obvious reasons. But sharing financial information does not have to be a chore.
Financial security and planning produces an atmosphere of shared goals, respect, and communication within which romance can flourish. If a couple can’t share details about their finances, it doesn’t bode well for their relationship.
On the other hand, most financial planning is planning for the financial means to meet a couple’s shared dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Nothing could be more romantic than that.
If money is a sensitive topic or has not been discussed before, turning to a professional provides an easy way to smooth the process. A financial advisor can ask the sensitive questions without judgment, listen to a couple’s goals, and make recommendations that the couple can respond to without any hurt feelings.
At Marotta Wealth Management, we enjoy helping young couples that are just starting out in life. They have enough time for financial planning to make a tremendous difference to their financial goals. They have enough time to enjoy growing rich slowly and growing old together.
Many couples just starting out in life think that they are living within their means if they spend less than or equal to what they make. While this is important, not having a savings plan is a mistake.
The most important principle that a new couple can establish for the financial health of the family is that daily expenses should be kept within 65% of their take home pay. The other 35% needs to be reserved for retirement and taxable savings, large unexpected purchases and gifting. Without this foresight, many couple’s finances are swamped into debt by the regular large waves of immediate needs.
Ten percent (10%) of a couple’s take home pay should be saved toward funding their retirement accounts and an additional 5% for funding taxable savings.
Large purchases need to be budgeted for by putting aside 10% of your take home pay each month. We define “large purchases’” as purchases that are over one month’s take home pay. Even this only funds one large purchase every 10-12 months!
Without budgeting for these large expenses, a couple’s finances will be quickly swamped by large but necessary purchases, such as a new roof, massive repairs on the car, replacing furniture, flying home for a family emergency, etc.
Finally, many couples put aside an additional 10% for charity and gifting.
If you add these values up, 35% of regular take home pay can’t be spent on daily living expenses, leaving only 65% for day-to-day needs.
This is an example of the important financial decisions separating those who will grow their finances and those who won’t. In addition to registering for a blender and picking floral arrangements, make sure that your marriage has the financial accounts and monetary habits necessary to meet your shared financial goals.
Here is a newlywed checklist of topics to discuss with your fiancé:
- Current Savings/Debt
- Current Levels of Income
- Budgeting (list all categories)
- Accountability & communication
- Savings Plan
- Credit Cards (Good Debt vs. Bad Debt)
- Retirement Plan
- Childcare/ Stay-at-home parenting
- Working late/weekends
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