You’re getting married…congratulations! Who you choose to marry is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. Your wedding day should be one of the best and most memorable. We’re sure that, like most brides, you want to get every detail just right. However, one thing that you’ll want to determine before you tie the knot is that you and your hubby-to-be are on the same page regarding money matters. Otherwise you may be in for some rough waters, especially at the beginning.

Think of it this way, you want to plan everything well ahead of time to pave the way for a successful marriage. Your eyes aren’t just on the wedding, right?  And planning things definitely includes money matters. I understand that money may not be the most pleasant topic to discuss. However, growing an understanding about how your partner behaves when it comes to financial matters is very important indeed.

How important is it? Well, one study showed that arguments about money is the number one sign that a couple may not be compatible for the long haul. Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning at Kansas State University has this to say. “Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce. It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women.”

Well, forewarned is forearmed, right? The point of this is not to scare you away from tying the knot, not at all! This is to prepare you for a life of harmony when it comes to money. This way, you and your groom can enjoy the peace that comes from knowing you’re headed in the same direction.

Going from “me” to “we” when it comes to money

Perhaps the first thing that needs to happen is an attitude adjustment. It starts with ceasing to think of yourself, and your money, from an individual standpoint. Choose instead to see you and your partner as a team. Making decisions together is even more important than the most meticulous sticking to budgetary constraints.  Make sure you do this, with generosity and willingness to give way.

“Personal finance is normally 90% behaviour and 10% math, and when you’re thinking about getting married, I think that number goes up to even 95% behavioural and emotional. You guys working as a team and coming up with effective strategies is going to be the most important part about combining your finances — more so than any of the math,” said Nick Holeman, a certified financial planner in the US.

Merging finances takes some work. If you’ve haven’t yet talked about how to begin to put your money together, no worries. You’ll find some resources in our article on merging finances here.

Do: Discuss your money hopes and fears

When talking about money, why not take a leap and tackle the big issues? Yes, you guessed it–your biggest dreams and your worst nightmares.

Ask each other, “What are your financial goals?” What do you and your fiancé want to achieve with what you earn in the next year? How about in five years or even over your lifetime? What’s important to you (home, travel) may be different from what’s important to him (starting his own business). But this is not bad news at all. Instead, it’s an opportunity for you to come to agreement about what you want to see come to pass. It’s a chance to dream together.

Secondly, what is your partner most afraid of when it comes to finances? Recognize that we are all different, and what we’re afraid of often stems from how we were raised. Is your partner afraid he won’t be able to retire at the age when he wants to, because he saw his father work hard all his life? Or do his fears revolve around losing his job, or not being able to provide for you and your future family?

And what about you? Where are your money insecurities centered around?

Unlike dreams, we don’t want to have the same fears as our partners, but sharing our fears helps us understand each other at a deeper level. This minimises tension and stress especially when we talk (or argue) about money matters.

It takes courage to face our fears, and even more courage to openly talk about them, even to the person dearest to our hearts. But it’s well worth it.

Don’t: Sweat the small stuff

In your desire to handle your financial matters together as a couple well, I would caution against over meticulously sitting down and creating a budget down to the last cent.

Here’s a truth nugget for you: it’s not worth it.

I can hear you gasping in shock, because this may seem counterintuitive. While a budget is the foundation for every person’s, much less every couple’s and then family’s financial health, an overly detailed budget could be the cause of some unnecessary arguments over the smallest things. Remember, there are two of you now, and therefore there are twice as many opportunities to get stressed.

Relax. You and your man have got this. How about working backwards, a.k.a backward budgeting? It’s as simple as once you recognise what your short and long term goals are, and have figured out how much you need to save per month to get there, don’t sweat over who is spending how much on what, when and where for the budget you have together.

As long as you are putting your savings in place, which means the rest of your spending is pretty much kept in line, there is no need to trace every single cent in a way that is stressful or burdensome. Certified Public Accountant Patrick Brewer says that backward budgeting “flips the strategy on traditional budgeting, from a task you dread to a useful tool that helps you understand and manage the big picture.”

Here’s some more help

There’s a lot more to the convos you need to have with your husband-to-be before the big day, and we tackle a number of those important topics in an e-book entitled “Four Things You Should Know Before Marriage” that you can download here.

I know there are a lot of preparations to be made before your big day, but trust me, getting on the same page financially is one of the most important ones.

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Anna Maria Romero is the Deputy Director of Lifeline Foundation by day and a freelance writer by night. Lifeline Foundation’s advocacy includes empowerment through financial literacy, which is why she has written and taught on this subject on numerous occasions.An educator by profession and training, Anna Maria graduated from the University of the Philippines, cum laude, and taught for more than two decades, having opened a school in 1995. She stepped down as as principal of South City Central School in 2015 in order to pursue a career in the non-profit sector.She is a contributing writer to an online news site, and has been on the creative team of “This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life” since 2008, which is published by FreeSpeech Publications in Manila, Philippines.Anna Maria is a passionate advocate, volunteer, organizer, counselor, communicator, editor, and traveler, who’s always ready to pack up and go where she’s needed.

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