Thursday, June 14, 2012

June is Wedding Month

Interesting to learn that money causes the most arguments between couples.  And since June is the most popular month for Weddings, it seems appropriate to revisit this issue.
  • Only 43 percent of couples talked about money before marriage, according to a May 2010 survey conducted for American Express.
Have the money talk.  Mr. Sam and I had, what we call a financial summit, before we bought a house together (this was before we got married).  We sat down, with no distractions, and we each brought information regarding our current assets, current debts and a copy of our credit report, and a pay stub and talked through each of those categories.  No it wasn't romantic and there was some embarrassment on both sides of the table, but it was a very helpful step in our financial realtionship.  
  • Be up front about your financial situation, have the "money talk" long before the big day, and tackle any challenges as a couple.
Yes, we had the money talk before our wedding.  But we continued to keep our finances separate until we married.  We did set up a joint house account, and we calculated, by income, what percentage each of us would put into the house account to cover the mortgage, insurance, utilities and joint expenses of living together.  I took over the task of paying joint expenses since Mr. Sam wasn't great about paying his bills on time.  
  • It's helpful to have basic guidelines in place that will keep you on the same page. For instance, purchases under a certain dollar amount can be left to each spouse's discretion, while larger ones should to be cleared with your partner.
We work from an allowance system, each of us gets the same amount of money, X2 a month, for discretionary spending.  We also have a rules system.  Any purchase over $300, even if spend from allowance money, requires a discussion and agreement between the two of us.  We also use the $100 rule, any purchase over a $100 requires a day's cooling off period for each $100.  So, a $600 purchase, requires a discussion, agreement between the two of us and a six day waiting period.
  • Some couples might be comfortable pooling all of their money, and others may not; neither is the "right" choice, but that should be decided explicitly.
We use a his, hers, ours system.  We each maintain our own account for our allowance money and then we have an ours account for our joint spending, saving and bill paying.  

If you are in a co-habitation or marital relationship, what systems do you use, what works and what doesn't work for you and your significant other?

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