Vow Not to be a Financial Mismatch
Commingled finances, credit scores and automatic payroll deductions. These words don't describe romance and wedding bells.
But young couples counting down the weeks or months before tying the knot will get their marriage off to a good start by focusing on some of the financials -- paying down debts, building good credit histories, shifting the wedding date into next year for tax purposes.
And here's what's especially important: They need to talk about how each partner treats money.
One of the biggest mistakes many young newlyweds make is not being on the same page about money and lifestyle priorities from the get-go, said
The best way to find out if you're financially mismatched is to pose questions to each other well before the wedding day: How much debt are you carrying and how quickly are you trying to pay it down? Are you comfortable living on a budget or do you follow seat-of-the-pants checkbook management? Are you saving any money from your paycheck? Do you want to own a home or rent for a few years?
Be honest. If you can't resist rolling the dice at the casino or escaping to the outlet malls for a shopping spree when you've had a bad day, this is the time to reveal your money foibles. The same goes for sharing good financial habits, such as taking advantage of the company's payroll deduction plan to beef up the 401(k) retirement account.
If one or both partners are college grads, it's a safe bet that they'll enter marriage with a load of student loans. The average debt for bachelor's degree graduates, for example, is about
McMahon said it's best to discuss how these debts will be dealt with so there won't be any surprises when the bills come. While your future spouse's debts won't show up on your credit history once you're married as long as you aren't added to the account, the debt will impact your cash flow and your ability to save money for the first house, big travel plans or starting a family.
Determine which debts to pay off first, preferably the one with the highest interest rate. Then move on to the next one. Or pay off the bills with the smallest balance as a way to make progress and show a financial commitment to grapple with bills.
This would also be the time for each partner to obtain a free credit history from one of the three major credit bureaus. Make sure the information is correct so you're starting off married life with a clean slate. For copies, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
McMahon also recommends setting up a joint checking account to pay the mortgage, rent, utility, water and other regular household bills. Set an acceptable spending limit of
Check each person's potential employer-provided fringe benefits, said financial planner
Finally, consider consulting with a financial adviser. It might not be romantic, but a financial chat might ease some of the stress before you exchange wedding vows.
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Personal Finance - Vow Not to be a Financial Mismatch
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