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Adding financial resolutions to your wedding vows can be a blueprint for marital success.
Adding financial resolutions to wedding vows
By Sara Croymans, University of Minnesota Extension Service
From eNews, January 27, 2005
Most couples who are marrying these days assume they're headed for marital bliss after they toss the bouquet and return the tuxedos. However, studies show that more than half of newly married couples report serious marital problems within a year.
Sometimes this discord is caused by financial stress and poor communication. Communicating effectively is the key for newlyweds as they strive to manage their money.
Spending goals should be set early in marriage and be based upon values. They can serve as a guide to help the couple spend their money for things that are most important to both individuals. Studies show that couples who write their goals on paper are more likely to achieve them than those who do not. Goals should be specific, include a time frame, and be attainable, such as: "We will save $150 a month for 36 months for a down payment on a house."
For richer or poorer, in good times and bad, it's possible for spouses to avoid, or at least defuse, many of the most common disputes about money by adding the following resolutions to their wedding vows:
- Talk about money openly and plainly. Silence is not golden and could lead to unpleasant surprises later.
- Settle the issue of joint versus separate checking accounts. Either system will work if both individuals accept it. Or, both spouses could fund a third account for household expenses.
- Designate which spouse will pay bills, balance the checkbook(s), and handle investments.
- Know where your money is. Even if your spouse handles the finances, you need to touch base periodically so you know how much you owe on your credit cards and how much is in your retirement accounts.
- Don't begrudge your spouse small indulgences. Each of you should have some money to spend, in an amount that fits into your budget, with no explanations needed.
- Consult with each other on large purchases over a certain amount, such as $100 or $500, depending on what your budget or reserve fund can handle. Your partner deserves a say on big indulgences.
- Don't criticize your spouse about money in front of others. Talk openly, but talk privately.
- Coordinate your responses when children ask for something so they don't play one parent against the other.
- Discuss your goals regularly, preferably at a time when you're not under pressure to solve a money problem. Even when you keep separate accounts, you need to coordinate financial plans if you hope to retire together.