Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« How to Save 42% on Healthcare Costs | Main | Make More Money by Moving to a Cold Weather Climate »

August 07, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I don't think we ever had any of these conversations. I guess I could have been surprised with a bad history, large debts, etc., but her actions spoke loud when it came to money. She would give me a hard time for spending so much money on a $30 gift and would bring coupons to restaurants I took her to, so I was pretty sure I had a financial winner.

Interesting thing is I always thought I would be the saver, but discovered it was really my natural distaste of "stuff" (the clutter, the maintenance, etc) that had always kept my spending down more than any actual discipline. The things I did not mind spending money on (travel, food, entertainment, etc) was where I endeed up learning a thing or two about cutting waste.

After being a regular reader of FMF and other personal finance blogs, I knew that it was important to discuss these topics. I am engaged to be married soon. We talked about spending styles, debt, future bank account strategy, financial goals, and family member needs months before we were engaged. I wanted to set the stage for a solid marriage by understanding the situation and planning for the future. Although some people may find it uncomfortable to discuss, it has made things easier because nothing is hidden and we can plan ahead.

* Your credit histories.
* Whether you want separate or joint accounts.
* Your long-term financial goals.
* Your spending styles.
* Who will do what?
* How will you respond to needy family members?

Some of these are difficult to figure out depending on when in life you meet and marry.

I got married in college. No debt and a frugal life style for both of us -- we could both deal with being poor just fine. Neither of us had any experience with money though, we had no way of knowing how we would respond to the relative wealth of a $50k/year job.

We have a very happy marriage and family, but our attitudes and priorities about money, who will do what, helping family members and our long term financial goals have changed drastically since we got married!

I expect that our attitudes will continue to change as we pay off debts and improve our cashflow, as my income increases and as we get older. With a little luck and a little work though, I expect that we will continue to work things out.

Attitudes about money can and will change over time just like the rest of a person's personality.

I am newly engaged, but have lived with my fiancee for a year now. We decided to have a full-on joint account, with me primarily taking care of the budget and bills (but him continuing to stay aware and engaged in the finances) because I am much better at it, and enjoy it! We also have joint savings accounts; both are at ING Direct. One is for regular savings (which right now is downpayment on a home and the wedding), and the other is for an emergency savings. Our financial spending styles do differ, but we have definitely talked about them, and have witnessed them over the last year. I am sure both of us are going to have adjustments, but we think we are on the right track.

When we were dating, my future wife was taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We listened to Dave's CDs together, and had long discussions on all of these topics. It was very useful. After 2 years of marriage, we have cut our joint debt in half (and currently on a glide path to eliminate it by late 2010) and greatly increased our charitable giving. It truly is financial peace.

Almost everyone I know lived with their partner before getting hitched, and we certainly had joint accounts, and I was aware that my husband supported his mother long before we actually got married. I would hope people are having these conversations long before they've "written the vows".

And how could you know someone well enough to agree to marry them and not know their "spending styles"?!

My wife and I had covered most of those. We had good idea on each others credit, spending style and goals. Those things we didn't necessarily sit down and talk about but mostly just learned from each other by observation and having things come up. Someones "spending style" is something you should be able to observe. Its self evident from the kind of clothes you wear, car you drive, etc.

By the point we were engaged, we did talk about and agree explicitly on having a joint account and consulting one another if making large purchase decisions.

We didn't really decide who does what before hand. We just figured it out after marriage.

One thing I don't recall us really talking about before marriage was how to handle needy family members. Its a topic that has come up since in a "what if" scenario and thankfully we're in agreement on what we'd do.

My wife and I were both raised in England and were married there in July 1956, before emigrating in the November. In those distant days it was a totally unheard of thing for a young unmarried couple to live together. Not only did financial considerations make it impossible for the working classes but family and social pressures made it unthinkable. Our courtship started when I was 15 and ended when I got married at 21. Even during those 6 years we were frugal with what little money we had and the highlights of our week were a night at the movies and going to very inexpensive dance halls - ballroom dancing to the Big Band music was a big deal in those days. It may be hard for Americans to believe but pre-marital sex was also a No! No! back then in the days before "The Pill", but the bigger reason was the total fear of having a child out of wedlock before one was financially able to marry and become parents.

There was no such thing as DEBT for us in those days, because there was no such thing as CREDIT. If you wanted something you saved up until you had the money to buy it. Another important feature of that time period in Britain was that teenagers living at home paid their parents at least half (in my case 2/3) of their income to help with the expenses.

It may seem strange to young readers but we still think of that period as "The Good Old Days".

I'm enjoying Old Limey's comments. FMF - guest post suggestion!

Guinness --

I've already asked him to guest post -- he turned me down. Maybe you can convince him! :-)

Old Limey's comments are amazingly coincidental with the song I heard on the radio driving to work today: The Kinks "Come Dancing," which is a perfect homage to that 1950s world of "inexpensive dance halls" and NO premarital sex. Ray Davies' song also makes you believe he thinks of that era as the Good Old Days as well. Here's a link to the lyrics:

1) Credit/debt history: when we got engaged, we were both juniors in college (despite being only 19 and 17) and were both on scholarship, and she had a job to pay for what her scholarships didn't. I actually had several years of positive credit history at that point since my parents added all the kids to their always-paid-off cards. Being young meant there wasn't much more to this discussion.

2) separate or joint accounts: We went with everything joint (though we do have separate retirement accounts due to tax/contribution laws.) Given this, we didn't really need a "who pays for what" discussion.

3) spending styles: didn't really discuss this, so much as observe it. She's frugal and I'm cheap. We both knew the other wouldn't blow big money on pointless purchases. We did make it a point to talk about setting up a budget with discretionary spending so we wouldn't have to wrestle with each other over every little purchase.

4) long-term goals: we were both too young and inexperienced to have a clear idea of this. We knew we both had high earning potential and we planned to save for a house, kids, retirement, etc., but we didn't have the "I'd like to have X dollars saved by age Y" type of discussion.

5) charity (including family): we built it in to our budget. If a need arises, we look at whether we can afford it based on our budget, and we look at whether it's the best use of those funds. At certain times we've supported family or friends' needs, while at other times we've suggested alternatives.

All told, I think we started off very well. We had basic agreement on how money would be handled, what we'd spend on, and how we'd handle major decisions. The one thing I think we could've done better is we could've made our budget a little tighter to start with (keeping a better lid on small purchases) and reviewed it more often (cutting expenses as soon as they became unnecessary instead of 6 months later.) But having a basic money talk and making sure our priorities were aligned was a good start.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.