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Your guide to marriage and money

Love and money can be complicated. Here’s how to deal with finances before, during and after marriage.

According to research by Ramsey Solutions, money is the No. 1 reason couples fight. Seems obvious, but it plays out over and over again. An article from Marriage.com lists money and com¬munication as two of the top three reasons for divorce (infidelity holds the top spot). So, when it comes to coupling, finances can determine success – or not.

Here are some considerations you should make before, during and after wedded bliss.

BEFORE

Before you walk down the aisle or cohabitate, it’s important to have open conversations about finances. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Be honest about your histories. It’s only fair for you and your soon-to-be spouse to be truthful about your financial past. You need to know if you’re marrying someone who carries a lot of debt or has been through a bankruptcy. These facts may become obstacles when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage together or reaching other financial goals.

Propose a prenup. You may think only the wealthy need pre¬nuptial agreements, but, really, anyone coming into a marriage with personal assets or dependents should consider one. They may not be right for everyone, but they can be helpful when it comes to passing on property to your children or protecting you from your spouse’s debt.

Determine how to manage your finances. First, identify how you and your partner manage your finances separately – and embrace it. Once you decide to combine finances, play to your strengths. If you’re a savvy shopper and your partner is a calcu¬lated risk taker, rely on each other for managing those distinct aspects of your finances. There are several ways to manage your money as a couple (from splitting everything 50-50 to managing a household account with separate personal spending accounts) and you should agree on the method you’re going to use before you say, “I do.” This is not to say it won’t change, but having a plan will take the pressure out of making major decisions once you’re back home from your honeymoon.

Don’t start your life together in debt. Sure, you may have dreamed of a fairy tale wedding, but is it worth starting your new life in debt? According to the Ramsey study, the more debt you have, the more likely conversations about money turn negative. This should be an exciting new chapter, not a stressful one.

DURING

Every time there’s a job change, children enter the picture or new cars and homes appear on the horizon, your financial situation changes. And this means you should have an ongoing conversa-tion with your spouse and your advisor about finances – at the very least check in on a regular basis and be mindful of these tips.

Track your spending. It’s easier to keep your spending in check when you hold each other accountable. This step starts with cre¬ating a household budget then being specific about a spending plan from there. You may decide to allow a certain amount of disposable income weekly or monthly for each partner or to put all spending money into an account earmarked for that purpose.

Tell the truth about any purchases. If you have the tendency to hide a shopping bag before your spouse comes home from work (one in three of those who argue with their spouse about money have hid purchases from their spouse), this will jeopardize your financial planning with certainty.  If you and your spouse don’t have the complete financial picture, how can you accurately manage it? This also leads to a break down in trust.

Set financial priorities together. Dreams and aspirations change, which is why it’s important to have regular check-ins with your spouse about financial goals. This means short- and long-term goals. Rank the top three financial priorities and have a weekly or monthly meeting to track your progress. This will give you the opportunity to change course if need be.

AFTER

No one enters a marriage thinking it’s going to end, but about 40% to 50% of married couples in the United States get divorced, according to the American Psychological Association. Finances can be what turns an amicable divorce into a hostile one. If you’re separated, consider this:

Heed the advice of professionals. When it comes to love and money, opinions get heated. Try to avoid listening to your co-worker’s advice and get a professional’s help. Your advisor can guide you through the practical aspects of this emotional time and be an unbiased resource you can trust.

Close joint credit accounts. Once a divorce has been deter¬mined, get your partner to agree on closing all joint credit accounts so you stop accruing debt that both of you will be responsible for. Unless your spouse has a spending problem, hopefully he or she will be on board.

Open separate checking accounts. It’s best to close joint accounts and open new separate accounts rather than adding or removing names; it’ll give you a sense of security that you’re the only one with access. Change your direct deposit to go into the new account and start budgeting for yourself immediately.

Upskill your financial prowess. In many relationships, one person acts as the money manager. If you were not involved in managing the finances in your last relationship, now’s the time to get up to speed. Lean on your advisor to guide you and ask for resources that will help you manage your finances the way you want to.

NEXT STEPS

If you’re mingling finances with your partner, be sure to:

• Schedule regular financial check-ins with your spouse to discuss financial goals and progress.

• Protect your financial success by considering a prenup before marriage or closing joint accounts after a marriage has dissolved.

• Whatever stage of marriage you’re in, get the advice of an advisor to guide you toward your financial goals.

A healthy relationship with finances and the ability to be honest about them will contribute to a healthy relationship with your spouse and set you up for success in your marriage.

Sources: Daveramsey.com; bankrate.com; marriage.com

Material created by Raymond James for use by its advisors. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James is not affiliated with any other entity listed herein. © 2019 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. 19-BDMKT-3511 FJD 7/19

Stephen P. Poitevint, Inc. is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. 

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.

Stephen “Phillip” Poitevint, Financial Advisor, is located at 908 Tallahassee Highway, Bainbridge, Georgia, and can be contacted at (229) 246-7208 or www.poitevint.com.