Sorry to break it to you, but when it comes to money honey, you’ve got to bring a business mindset to your marriage. Money issues can be a major reason why marriages fall apart. Like businesses, actually.
So while you’re still in the honeymoon phase (aka. when the waters are calm and things are going awesome), you need to lay out a solid plan for how you’re going to handle your finances.
- Self assess your money situation.
Do a credit check on yourself and look into your report in detail to get an idea of where you stand. Identify any issues you’re having and make a plan to pay them back so you’re not bringing them into the relationship. Lead by example.
- Have an open discussion with your partner about your current financial situation.
Have an understanding of each other goals and make sure you’re on the same page—even if your goals aren’t the same. Don’t surprise your partner with financial goals in the future that they don’t agree with or are blindsided by.
- Make a debt payback plan.
Whether it’s your own debt or both of your debt, some debts like credit card debt can be very stressful. If you’re like the 10 million Canadians who have credit card debt, change up your product by paying off your revolving debt (which is tempting to reuse) using a personal loan with a term that gets you out of debt. Then, stop racking up more bad debt by using a debit or prepaid Visa, as opposed to a credit card.
- Have a conflict resolution strategy AND an emergency fund.
Have money set aside and figure out the best way to deal with conflict if something does go wrong. The best time to make this conflict resolution plan is while you’re in a good head space—so definitely do it as preparation rather than reactively after something’s already happened. And because cash rules everything, have an emergency stash. Just in case.
- Keep both a separate account and a joint account.
Not only is it practical, but having your own account also keeps your adulting skills sharp. Besides, being an adult means being in charge and aware of your own finances. If you have a shared asset or debt, have a joint account for that. Although keep in mind that if your partner decides not to put money in the joint account for a bill, you’re responsible too, so always be on top of it to avoid derogatory credit or NSFs.
Marriage is a spiritual union, but it’s also a business because it has a huge effect on where your money goes, whether you’re spending, saving, or investing. You need to be the CEO of your finances, whether you’re married or not.
About Chantel Chapman
Chantel Chapman is an author, entrepreneur, educator, mortgage broker and Financial Fitness Coach with Mogo, Canada’s leading online lender. She is the founder of Holler For Your Dollar, a consulting firm that jump-starts anyone ready to dive into the world of Adulting or entrepreneurship. Her focus is on sharing digestible yet educational financial literacy content with millennials and daring entrepreneurs.
With over a decade’s experience as a mortgage broker, Ms Chapman recognized a need for financial education with many first-time homebuyers. She developed a “smart money” program to help youth and young adults make healthy fiscal choices, teaching young adults. Today this program has developed into the Canadian event series called “Adulting 101” a mashup of the ever-popular Price is Right-style knowledge programing with a wine tasting event that delivers financial education gems to help people stay in control of their money and avoid the pitfalls of piling on debt.