June is one of the most popular months to have a wedding. But although the marriage vows traditionally include the promise to stand by each other “for richer or for poorer,” money matters are not usually at the top of the list of topics when couples plan their future together.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) says that 68% of people in a recent online poll had a negative attitude about discussing finances with their betrothed – whether they were actually already engaged or just thinking about it.
When asked how they would feel about a money conversation with someone they were engaged to be married to, 45% said it would be a necessary but awkward talk, 11% said they thought the conversation might bring issues to light that they were not aware of, 7% said they would avoid it for fear of a possible fight, and 5% said talking finances could even cause them to cancel the wedding.
However, more than a third of respondents (32%) said they thought a talk about money matters would be “a productive and easy conversation to have.” That indicates a healthy attitude toward something vital for couples to communicate about.
Whether it is a talk about how much money to put toward savings, how to use credit cards, or attitudes about spending, coming to an agreement about financial issues is an important part of a couples’ life together.
When it comes to having the big talk, the NFCC offers the following tips for engaged couples:
- Schedule a time that is convenient for both people to talk; don’t spring a discussion on your partner out of the blue.
- Be honest with each other about your financial situation and your expectations for the future.
- Find out each other’s financial styles: are you a spender or a saver? Respect each other’s differences and try to learn from each other.
- Do not hide income or debt, including credit card debt – this is sometimes known as financial infidelity and it can be toxic to a marriage.
- Make a budget together that includes a plan to save for the future.
- Discuss attitudes toward lending money to friends and family.
- Many people end up taking care of aging parents financially; talk about whether this is a possibility and how you each feel about it.
- Set up separate accounts (in addition to any joint accounts) so that each partner has some financial independence and room for discretionary spending.
- Decide who will be responsible for paying which bills, keeping track of the budget, and other financial housekeeping matters.
- Do not point fingers or become angry. Financial matters can be sensitive. If things get heated, take a break and resume the talk later, when both people are calm.
The May Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the home page of the NFCC’s website, www.DebtAdvice.org in May and was answered by 802 respondents.