Talk-show host and financial adviser Dave Ramsey is pretty clear about marriage and money.
Couples should discuss their finances before ever putting rings on fingers and absolutely never get involved with financial transactions before the ink is final on the marriage license.
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The ”money makeover“ man, who can be heard on WVLK-590 FM from 8 to 11 p.m. weekdays, is coming to Southland Christian Church, 5001 Harrodsburg Road, on Thursday and Friday. At press time, both shows were nearly sold out.
Ramsey shared his views about love and money with the Herald-Leader.
Question: Why is it so difficult for young people or people getting married to discuss finances?
Answer: I think the biggest reason is that most of us feel like we are the only stupid ones and everybody else has got it together. It's kind of like ”I'm ashamed to admit that I've made any mistakes.“ When you are dating, you're not supposed to show your flaws. So it's kind of like a guilt, shame thing, I guess.
Q: How do you even broach the subject? You know, ”I love you, but now let's talk about credit card debt?“
A: You really need to be delving into life's most difficult subjects prior to getting married. Good pre-marriage counseling will lead you that way, and money is one of those subjects.
So say, ”Honey, I want to start on the right foot. We need to start looking and seeing exactly what situation both of us are in and we need to see how we are going to get out of debt and prosper.“
Q: What do you need to highlight in that discussion?
A: The first thing is that you need to be 100 percent honest. No secrets. Play your cards and play them all face up. This is not a time for deception; it's not a time for little white lies that are cute. You build a quality relationship on lots of clarity and lots of honesty.
You need to start discussing your differences on how you deal with money. Typically, opposites attract. A spender is going to be attracted to a saver. A saver is going to be attracted to a spender.
Gently discuss how your family of origin affects that. (Most people are greatly influenced by their family.) How is that going to come into play when you want to buy a couch and one is going to go out and put it on credit and the other is going to want to save for it?
Q: What are some concrete steps you can take?
A: Start doing some mock budgets together. Do a pretend budget as if you are married and see what kind of stresses that brings out. Do not pay off each other's debt until you are married.
Q: Why not until you are married?
A: All kinds of things can happen prior to marriage. If you go into debt together and you've got a problem, all of a sudden, you've got a partner in the deal who is your ex-fiancée. Just pile up the cash (if you want to pay off a loved one's debt) and pay it off after the rings are on the fingers.
Q: Are there any flags that say, ”Maybe I really need to rethink this relationship“?
A: If you can't agree on a direction on your money, that is a huge red flag. Not because it's money. Because money tells us all about your goals, your dreams, your fears. It all flows through the money. When you can't agree on the money, you haven't really agreed on life.
If money is the number one cause of divorce and we know before we're married we can't agree on it, hello, that's a huge red flag.