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Why It’s Important to Discuss Debt Before Saying I Do

CATEGORIES 

August 3, 2023
Words by Kinsley Brown
Photos courtesy of Canva

Money, a topic often considered taboo, is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of any relationship. As couples prepare to celebrate their love with a wedding, there’s a critical element that shouldn’t be overlooked—their finances. To shed light on the importance of open and honest financial discussions before tying the knot, we sat down with Natalia Brown, Chief Client Operations Officer at National Debt Relief and Executive Board Member of the American Fair Credit Council.

Why is it crucial for couples about to throw a wedding celebration to have open and honest discussions about finances before tying the knot? How does this contribute to the overall success and stability of their relationship?

“Not having open and honest communication about each other’s finances and spending habits can create a lot of tension in relationships down the road – especially if you plan to have a joint account after marriage. 

Before getting married, it’s important to understand what your financial goals are independently and together as a couple when saving for a house, children, retirement, education, etc.

Couples who have open and transparent communication about their financial circumstances are much more likely to be able to work through them. A survey done by National Debt Relief called The Hidden Cost of Debt found that 3 in 5 Americans have considered delaying marriage to avoid inheriting their partner’s debt. Furthermore, 54% believe that a partner in debt is a significant reason to consider divorce, and 38% miss out on dating and date nights when in debt. Of course, it’s a shame if money comes between true love, which is why it’s so important to discuss and plan for your financial future together.”

What advice would you give to couples who are facing debt issues as they plan their wedding or start their married life together?

“If you’re entering a marriage with debt, it’s important to understand and agree on a plan for how the debt is going to be managed to ensure both parties are on the same page about their joint financial responsibilities.

Depending on the severity of the debt, I would recommend not prioritizing a lavish wedding until you truly have the financial means. While it may seem obvious, budgeting really is a great way to see how much money is coming in each month, and how much you have left over after all bills are paid. After determining this amount see how much you are able to put toward paying down debt. If your debt feels too overwhelming, speak to a professional who can help you put together a plan to get out of debt and most importantly who is someone you can trust. National Debt Relief understands that debt is very much an emotional journey as much as it is financial, which is why we adopt a Whole Human Finance approach to debt relief.”

What key financial considerations should couples keep in mind as they plan for their long-term goals, such as buying a home, starting a family, or saving for retirement?

“Prioritizing debt payments and building an emergency fund is key to begin setting yourself up for success. I always tell my clients to invest in yourself first, even if it’s $1 a day. When an unexpected bill comes along and you have no savings, you turn to a credit card, which will only put you further into debt. 

If you’re not in debt, the best advice I can give you when starting off is to, within reason, live below your means. This is a surefire way to quickly build a savings account that can be diversified into CDs, money markets, 401Ks, etc and put you on the road to financial security with a net worth that allows you to invest in a home, splurge on vacations, and any other financial goals you may have!”

What are some common financial pitfalls or mistakes that couples tend to make when they overlook the importance of financial discussions before marriage? How can couples proactively avoid these pitfalls and set a solid foundation for their financial well-being as a couple?

“Not understanding each other’s spending habits, saving practices, and attitudes towards money often leads to unexpected disagreements and frustration when one person’s financial behavior doesn’t align with the other’s expectations. Talking about finances is the best way to proactively avoid these pitfalls and creating a budget together will help give you both a real sense of what’s left over after all bills are paid and the opportunity to discuss how it should be spent.”

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