Home > 2013 > Personal Finance

Engaged? You Might Need Money Therapy

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

Wedding plans aside, prior to getting married, the biggest money decisions some couples make together is ‘who is going to pay for dinner’ or ‘can we afford a romantic getaway to Aruba?’

Studies have shown that money is the number one reason married couples argue, and often the main reason couples head to divorce court. Clear communication is key to having the correct expectations when it comes to money and marriage. So it’s not a bad idea to get some money therapy of sorts before you head down the aisle.

Here are the topics you and your mate should work on to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your lifetime financial goals.

Task #1: Write It Down

Get a visual handle on where you both are with your finances. Write down each other’s assets: Home and car values, checking, savings and investment account balances. Then, write each other’s liabilities: mortgage, auto and student loans and credit card debt. You can’t manage it until you face it — the good, the bad and the ugly.

This type of disclosure may lead to a conversation regarding a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial is an agreement that states how money will be distributed in the event of divorce. This is never a fun conversation, but certainly an important option in some cases.

Task #2: Manage Your Collective Debt

Going from “this is mine” to “this is ours” is only fun when gaining substantial assets. When there is significant debt on the table, the picture is not so rosy. It is important to discuss how current debt will be reduced and how comfortable each person is with taking on any new debt.

Task #3: Agree on How to Spend

Prior to getting married, the only person to say “maybe that new pair of shoes (or new golf club) is not such a good idea” — was you!  In marriage, there’s one more person giving input on purchases. The two most important things when approaching spending is to be responsible and aware. You can’t be responsible unless you are aware of how much there is to spend.  Take the time to review your income and expenses with your partner so you know exactly what is left over each month.

Task #4: Allocate Funds

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to merging finances. Couples often have predetermined opinions regarding joint and separate bank accounts. The best approach is to keep it simple. It is important to have a checking account for household bills, a petty savings account for life’s pleasures, an emergency fund for life’s disasters, and an individual retirement account for life’s golden years. Beyond that, you’re just adding more to manage!

Task #5: Get Professional Guidance

The best wedding gift you can give yourselves is an appointment with a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™. These individuals are highly trained and specialize in improving the financial well being of single professionals, couples and families. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country’s leading professional association of fee-only Certified Financial Planner ™ professionals and can help you find a planner near you. (Full disclosure: I am a fee-only CFP® and a NAPFA member.)

Image: iStockphoto

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team