Are You Financially Prepared for Marriage?

by Guest

This is a guest post by Amanda Green.

While the holiday season is a time of gift giving, it is also a high season for engagements. In the spirit of the holidays, and because many will be close to family, many boyfriends are prepped to present traditional and black diamond engagement rings to unsuspecting girlfriends. Although proposing during Christmastime creates a memorable event, proposing when you aren’t financially ready can lead to future disaster.

Engagement

Many couples are quick to marry even when they aren’t financially ready, and unfortunately, finances are the number one reason why arguments arise in a marriage, and are also the number one cause leading to divorce. To start your marriage off on the right foot, you want to make sure that you are financially stable. A few good questions to ask yourself to determine if you are financially stable enough to tie the knot include:

How Much Debt Do I Currently Have?

Bringing a high amount of debt in to a marriage is one of the main causes for problems with newlyweds. To avoid the stress of high debt in a marriage, you want to postpone your engagement until you are aware of just how much debt you and your significant other have. If you have minimal debt that you will both be able to easily pay off, then you should be okay. However, consider paying off that debt prior to your wedding.

If you and your significant other have high amounts of debt, marriage may not be appropriate at this time. Consider coming up with a plan together to pay down your debt, and consider marriage at a later date when your debt situation is more manageable.

Do You Both Have a Steady Job?

Prior to marriage, you and your intended should both have stable jobs. If you don’t, one of you may wind up supporting the other which could lead to resentment and power plays. If one of you does plan on supporting the other, make sure that you balance your budget prior to marriage to make sure that you are both comfortable with the financial limitations that sharing one income may create.

Do You Have Complementary Spending Habits?

If you are both heavy spenders, joining finances may be bad for each of you. You could easily put yourselves in to high debt that could create relationship destroying stress later. To avoid this struggle, you need to realistically consider you and your partner’s spending habits prior to engagement. If you are more of a saver and she is more of a spender, or your are both more savers, then your spending habits are fairly complementary and should benefit you both.

Marriage is an exciting time for any committed couple; however, it is a significant life decision that even those young and in love need to take into evaluation. Take the time to consider not only your ultimate life goals, but also the menial details, such as your spending habits and overall financial skills, as these details can impact your marriage in a great way later on down the road.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyforCollegePro December 5, 2011 at 9:27 am

Communication is obviously a key to marriage, and in no area is this more apparent than in your finances. Good communication and a healthy dose of real expectations will go a long way towards a successful future.

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Hunter - Financially Consumed December 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

I really like the complementary relationship philosophy of couples. Balance is the goal, and diversity makes this possible. It wouldn’t be any fun anyway if both partners thought the same way about everything.

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Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog December 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

It took me a long time to get financially prepared for marriage – no one wanted all the debt that I had 2 years ago. I worked hard to pay a lot of it down and now i’m getting married in july 2012

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Dr. Dean December 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm

At a few days short of 31 years, somehow it worked even though we were totally unprepared financially for marriage. A little magic helps.

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LaTisha December 6, 2011 at 8:38 am

I definitely agree with your point that before getting into marriage, you should get out of debt. Otherwise you are takking excess baggage into the relationship.

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Squirrelers December 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

Before getting married, people need to be very clear about their current situation, habits, and expecations when it comes to money. Thing is, many people are just consumed by emotion and love – which is more important anyway. But money is really important, and a cause of many problems in a lot of marriages.

You can leave it to luck, and figuring it all out later, which probably does work for a lot of people. But it also doesn’t work for others, which is why it’s best to just have the discussions up front.

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bad check collection December 8, 2011 at 12:30 am

I totally agree with author. Financially stability is important before marriage otherwise many problems will come.

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Emily @ evolvingPF December 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

I think this boils down to “Are you a mature, stable, and honest person?” I would say that if you are racking up new debt perpetually or concealing your debt, the answer is no. While it would be nice to get rid of old debt, particularly consumer debt, before marriage, I wouldn’t say that it is a reason to delay marriage as long as 1) you have grown up since the time in your life when you accrued that debt and 2) you and your intended have agreed on a plan for the debt and there are no hard feelings.

I came into my marriage with student loans whereas my husband had no debt. My debt has caused zero issues in our marriage because we agreed on how to handle it during our engagement and have stuck to our plan. Like MoneyforCollegePro said, communication is the key.

I wouldn’t exactly call a spender-saver relationship complementary. It is if each person is out of “balance” on their own, I suppose, but it will definitely create strife because of the different tendencies of the partners.

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