A great marriage may be based on rock-solid principles of love and respect, but money has a way of shaking the foundations of even the most secure relationships.
Here are five money issues to watch out for, whether you’re starting a new relationship or if yours is already well-established:
Starting off with a debt
Weddings don’t have to be expensive, but when you’re throwing a big party for two families, plus assorted friends and hangers-on, the cost can quickly add up.
To afford their dream wedding’s hefty price tag, some couples go deeply into debt, maxing out their credit cards or taking out personal loans. This can lead to more money problems further down the line as they struggle to manage the repayments on these debts.
While the wedding of your dreams doesn’t have to be impossible, it’s important to be realistic about the costs involved, and to be open to making compromises where necessary. If you decide that your wedding is worth going into debt for, make sure you’re confident that you can manage the repayments without risking your financial future together.
Getting joint accounts before you’re ready
A whirlwind romance can be wonderful, but comes with its share of risks. While you may want to share everything with your partner, from your home to your name, it’s often worth taking a moment before combining bank accounts or credit cards.
If the relationship breaks down for any reason, it can be difficult to disentangle your individual finances from your shared accounts, and disputes over who owns what can be hard to resolve fairly. In a worst-case scenario, your spouse could run up a huge debt on a shared credit card, or drain your shared savings account, before leaving you with no savings and a damaged credit rating.
Keeping money secrets
It should be obvious that secrets and lies can lead to relationship problems. And when it comes to money-related secrets, you not only risk personal problems such as trust issues, but serious financial problems that can affect both of your finances.
Financial secrets in a relationship can include concealing spending, hiding past debts, or maintaining a personal bank account or credit card without a partner’s knowledge. For keeping your finances and your relationship equally strong, honesty should be a priority.
Incompatible money values
There is no “right” way to manage your household finances – it all depends on your individual circumstances. If two partners have two different opinions on what’s best for their shared financial future, it can lead to disagreements, which can lead to problems.
For example, some people firmly believe in the Shakespearean wisdom of “neither a borrower nor a lender be” and are against going into any kind of debt. This principled attitude can be problematic if their partner is a believer in “spend money to make money”, and is in favour of using a manageable level of debt to reach their financial goals, such as taking out a mortgage to buy a home or investment property.
In cases like these, a degree of compromise may be required, along with plenty of communication. Which leads us to our final money issue that could ruin your marriage:
Not making plans together
While joint finances come with its share of risks, so does keeping your finances completely separated. Unless a couple co-ordinates their efforts, reaching their financial goals, either individually or as a team, could take much more time, effort, or expense.
It may not be fun, but working out a household budget can be a big help when it comes to making money decisions as a couple. As well as counting on one another, couples can find additional support from a qualified financial planner or broker, who can take their individual circumstances into account when offering money advice.