There are many important conversations to be had before the “I do’s” are exchanged on the big day. Money is often the topic avoided by couples and Rachel Cruze is here to help you realize how important this topic truly is. Regardless, if you are the spender or the saver, Rachel has some tips for you.
Having co-authored Smart Money, Smart Kids, with her father, Dave Ramsey, and written many other books of her own, such as Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel is going to help break down this tricky conversation so that you and your partner are creating a wise, shared budget and entering into a healthy marriage.
If marriage is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, then the last thing you should do is go in unprepared.
Because money is the number one thing couples fight about, according to recent research, making sure you’re on the same page (as much as possible) is extremely important. You’ll create trust when you sit down with your future spouse and talk about all your dreams, goals and guidelines when it comes to your finances.
But you’ve got to take the time to sit down and talk! Make that a priority before you get married, and ask yourself these questions to help guide the discussion with your future spouse.
ONE | What’s my current financial situation?
Both of you should answer this question as honestly as possible. How much debt do you currently have—including student loans, car loans, mortgages, credit cards and even personal loans? Also, what are you currently making per year?
Once you both have that information, you can make a plan to move forward and get out of debt. But you have to be 100% honest. The last thing you want to do is suddenly “remember” your $20,000 student loan on the honeymoon.
TWO | Am I a spender or a saver?
You probably know the answer to this question immediately, right? Would you rather spend your time shopping at the mall or updating your budget in Excel?
The spender and the saver are extremely different, but they somehow attract each other. It’s not uncommon at all for a spender and a saver to marry. The problems start when they go through life without paying attention to each other’s natural tendencies.
Even though you’re different, you have to be moving toward the same goal!
THREE | Do I understand how a budget works?
If you don’t know how to make a budget, stop what you’re doing (after you read this article!) and learn how to create one right now—or at least before you get married.
The budget is your game plan. With a zero-based budget, you list your monthly income at the top of the page. Then list all your monthly expenses—gas, food, rent, debt payments and so on—below that. The income minus the outgo should equal zero. Every dollar should have a “name.”
This is how you stay disciplined and focused with your money, and it’s ultimately a great way to win in your marriage!
FOUR | Do I believe in using debt?
I hope the answer to this question, for you, is an absolute NO! But the discussion of debt needs to come up before you get married.
As I mentioned earlier, you need to be aware of your current financial situation and how much debt you both have. But you also need to know whether or not your spouse still believes in using debt as a tool.
If you’re determined to get out of debt and your spouse has no problem continuing to pile up debt on credit cards, then you’re headed toward a lot of marital stress. Be honest with each other and respectfully talk through why you don’t believe in using debt as a tool.
FIVE | What are my financial priorities?
The basic principles of money are giving, saving and spending—and you should prioritize them in that order. If one of you is a giver and the other is a hoarder, you might have some problems in the future.
Again, lay it all out on the table and talk through your potential issues before you walk down the aisle!
The best thing you can do for you and your future spouse is to make sure you’re prepared for marriage. While the wedding, honeymoon and all the glitz and glamour are awesome, please spend some time thinking about practical issues, like your money.
You literally cannot afford to avoid this issue!
About Rachel Cruze
As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator, Rachel Cruze helps people learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored three best-selling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at rachelcruze.com, youtube.com/rachelcruze or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.