You know your wedding colors and cake flavors and your mother’s opinion on both. But do you know how much debt your partner carries? His or her take-home pay? Investments or savings goals?
If not, ask. And share the details of your finances, too.
“Have a full-transparency conversation where you just say, ‘Let’s get naked about money,’” suggests Deborah Price, founder and CEO of the Money Coaching Institute and author of “The Heart of Money: A Couple’s Guide to Creating True Financial Intimacy.”
This discussion will help you operate as a team as you budget for the wedding and plan your future. It might even bring you closer. Here’s how to get it done.
Mind the logistics
Agree on a predetermined, low-stress time to talk, says Gregory Kuhlman, a psychologist and co-founder of the New York-based Marriage Success Training seminars. If you or your partner feel overloaded, take a break. “You need a moment of time, physiologically, to come back to earth,” he says. Go for a walk, listen to music or do another relaxing activity for 30 minutes before returning to the conversation.
Price suggests couples open the conversation by saying, “Here’s what I make, here’s what I take home, and here are my expenses.” Mention all debts and any tax or credit issues you have, too. “Most people will be able to handle whatever the financial circumstances are if you are upfront,” she says.
Hiding this information “creates an element of distrust or insecurity,” she adds. “To the extent that people can be really open and honest and transparent and be willing to have the difficult conversations is the extent to which the relationship is on the firmest possible ground.”
Expect differing money views
“Sometimes the expectation doesn’t match reality,” Kuhlman says. He’s not talking about those DIY centerpieces on Pinterest — though those can also turn out a little differently than the pictures.
Don’t be surprised if you and your partner aren’t as aligned as you thought. A money discussion “can bring out differences you might not have discovered about each other yet,” he says.
Each of you has a distinct attitude toward saving and spending, shaped by your experiences. Conflicting views are normal, Kuhlman says. “It’s just like anything else in couples’ relationships,” he says. “You are going to run into your differences.”
Acknowledge stress and vulnerability
“Money is emotional,” says Isaac Cooper, CEO of Birmingham-based iMC Financial Consulting. Disclosing your finances can prompt discussions of values, ambitions, shortcomings and more.
At the same time, you’re dealing with the anxieties of wedding planning and vowing to be together for-ev-er. So expect some stress, which Kuhlman says one partner usually handles much better than the other. Cut your partner — and yourself — some slack during this important conversation.
Having this talk now is “freeing,” Cooper says. “Then you can start tackling some things.” Say you find out that your partner has little or no credit history. Consider adding him or her as an authorized user to your credit card. Just make sure the issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureaus. Here’s more about how being an authorized user can help build credit.
You’ll also be in better shape to plan for buying a house, raising kids and retiring. Oh, and you can get serious about that looming short-term goal: paying for your wedding. Bring the same transparency and team mentality to wedding budget conversations.
Collaborating on a wedding that’s within your vision and resources is “a big deal,” Price says. “That sets you up for the future.”
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