Finances

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Finances

Dear Engaged Couple—Just finished meeting with a couple for premarital counseling—Yes, I do premarital counseling.  I love doing it, actually.  Love getting to know couples better, before I have to compose a wedding service for them.  My premarital counseling sessions are 1 ½ hours each—and I require two sessions.   I have divided the sessions into six parts—the first session consists of a Myers Briggs assessment; a review of truths and misconceptions (those words of wisdom about marriage that really aren’t); families of origin and what that means for your life together.  In the second session we discuss some strategies for resolving differences with love; and finally, finances.

The more I live and the more I interact with engaged couples, the more I realize just how important navigating finances are in a married relationship.  What I find so often is, a couple lives together for awhile before they actually marry.  I am not a prude.  I even think there is some wisdom in living together first.  However, when you are living together, more than likely you are living as roomies.  In essence, one of you is subletting space to the other.  And, also more than likely, you are divvying up expenses like utilities and food.  So easy, then, when you marry to just keep things the way they are, financially speaking—it worked BEFORE you married, so why not AFTER you marry?

What a cutie!

One of the problems with keeping things the way they are, is that our government does not see you as roomies, after you marry.  Now you own things jointly.  You (can) file a joint tax return.  If one of you gets in debt, the other may be liable for that debt.

Another problem with keeping your financial arrangement the way it was before you married, is that down the road, you may want to buy a house and or have children together—you will want to start saving for that eventuality.

As a first step in the direction of shared finances, I suggest that you set up a joint account.  You may also want to keep separate accounts for your “play” money, but establish a joint account. You will have to decide how you want to contribute to that joint account.  Will this be percentage based (the groom’s salary is twice that of the bride’s so he contributes twice as much to the joint account) or will you make equal contributions?

Easy to use, I promise

I also recommend that you keep track of that joint account by purchasing good accounting program—Quicken and Quick Books are two—nothing fancy—really just a computer checkbook, that has the added advantage that it can quickly tally for you how much you are spending on utilities (say), in a month, six months or a year.  You see where I am going with this?   Your program can help you keep track of your finances, so that you can establish a budget.  Indeed, my own Quicken program comes with a “budget” feature.  And think about this—when tax time comes, and as I write this, April 15 looms large, you have all the information at the ready to prepare your tax return!

As I said, these are suggestions learned over years of experience—I have been counseling couples for fifteen years now.  At least consider what I am saying, please. for my sake?  I’ll rest easier!

Happy Wedding Planning,

Your wedding preacher for hire

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