Deb Morris: Fru-Gal

Fru-gal: Discussing your spending, saving habits before marriage is best

The Fru-Gal Deborah Morris
The Fru-Gal Deborah Morris

Until death do us part is included in the marriage vow. But maybe that same vow should include until debt do us part.

When two people merge their lives, how finances are handled should be discussed and not ignored. Money issues can ruin a marriage. In fact, it's the number one problem in marriages and the number one cause of divorce.

Being open and willing to talk about your finances is the first step to helping your mate gain an understanding of how you handle money. Bring all your bills, investments, checking accounts and savings accounts to the table. Be honest with your views of your financial future. Criticism and judgmental attitudes should not be welcomed. Two people can work together even if they have different views about money.

Address such thing as: When you become a couple should you put your money in a joint account or keep it separate? Everyone has different views on this subject. Separate accounts can keep a sense of independence in a relationship, allowing you your own discretionary money.

Put all of your income and expenses on paper, and determine what a typical month is going to look like. Work together on each line item to decide what your expenses should be. For example, how much do you want to spend for monthly entertainment or how much are you putting away for emergency funds.

Whatever you do, don't get stressed. Your relationship is important. Communication is the key to most financial challenges. Know what you are getting into up front so you both can decide together how to approach the problem.

Is getting into a relationship later in life different than when you were in your 20s? Yes. You have had many years of forming your own money beliefs and spending habits. Some older couples bring obligations like support payments or children's college payments.

Talking to a financial advisor may help. In addition, you could consider a prenuptial agreement. And be sure to revisit your estate plan and decide on a beneficiary. Make any changes in writing.

If you are closing in to age 62 and intend to apply for a former spouse's Social Security benefit don't remarry. You have to be single at the time you apply. Discussing your decisions with your new spouse and adult kids with the goals of reducing controversy will be a positive way to start your new life together.

Other savings

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