Love can sometimes be blind, especially in the midst of an engagement and wedding planning. While I don’t think that love suddenly disappears after the honeymoon, like many would suggest, I do think the reality of finances can hit couples hard after they settle down. Here are three smart financial moves every couple should consider before tying the knot.
You might not think your $3K credit card debt and $10K car loan are that big of a deal. In fact, you can probably afford the $200-300 payment easily each month. But your budget might start looking too tight when you combine your debt repayments with your spouse’s debt repayments, and then add on a bunch of new costs.
It is important to know how much your combined debt will be when you get married. Both you and your loved one should disclose any debt or financial obligations. Once you know your combined total of debt, try to reduce it by 50 percent before the big day. This might mean taking more hours at work, doing side jobs, or getting a second job. It is much easier to do this drastic debt attack before marriage then afterwards.
Discuss Your Financial Goals
Both you and your partner should spend time writing your goals on index cards and talking through them. Goals might look like this:
- Being debt free
- Going to school for a higher degree
- Staying at home with children in three years
- Take a vacation every year
- Buy a home in two years
Whatever your goals are for the next 5-10 years, you have to incorporate them into your budget. If you both agree to have children and the wife will stay home with them in three years, then you need to take the right steps in the beginning of your marriage. You should be living off of one income right away, while establishing a strong savings account.
Rethink Your Wedding Costs
You might want to cut costs wherever possible if you are paying for your own wedding. Being saddled with a $30K or more of debt for one day of celebrating is a bit extreme. Pay for cash for your wedding whenever possible, and remember, the day is about you as a couple, not about making the wedding look like it belongs in a magazine. What is the point in impressing your guests with a lavish wedding if you are stuck paying for it for 10 years afterwards?
Getting married is an exciting time for all couples. I strongly suggest taking time to discuss your finances, financial goals, and budget before walking down the aisle. It might not be sexy to talk investing and budgeting, but it will prevent a lot of issues later in your marriage.
Are you getting married? What financial steps are you taking before the big day? Already married? What financial moves did you wish you took before getting married?