There are so many things couples learn about each other after getting married. The honeymoon ends and real life sets in. It’s all too easy to jump into this lifelong commitment in a fog of emotional highs and good intentions only to be blind-sided by your partner’s odd habits or a credit secret.
Most couples learn to adjust and work together as they settle in a new life. A few things, such as spending habits and credit history, should be discussed explicitly explored beforehand.
According to a recent survey by Experian, one third of the newlyweds surveyed were surprised by their spouse’s spending habits and 40% didn’t know their spouse’s credit score. Bringing any potential financial issues to light before you jump into marriage can save a lot of heart ache and problems later on.
No Credit Secrets
Unexpected financial surprises can stress a brand new union. Money isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite subject to discuss in detail so it’s no surprise that newlyweds are often shocked by their partner’s credit score, debt or spending habits.
Many couples are surprised by how much their partners spend without telling them. Many are also disappointed to find out their spouse’s credit issues will not allow them to get the house of their dreams.
This is not to say that you have to call off the wedding when you find out the love of your life has crushing debt and a terrible credit score. Simply know what you’re working with and make a plan or strategy before getting married and combining finances.
You will be affected by their financial status and your goals may have to change so it’s important to get these big discussions out of the way before tying the knot. Although being a newlywed will always take some adjusting, doing all of this planning and negotiating beforehand will help reduce friction and ensure that neither of you will be surprised later on.
A great way to start of your marriage smoothly is to create a budget with a very clear spending plan for both of you. Start with taking into account all sources of income, all projected expenses and bills, and then set guidelines, limits and boundaries to keep both of your spending in check.
Many newlyweds run into problems when they’re making large purchases without informing their spouse or working within the lines of a specified budget. Making the transition from being single and only having to keep track of your own budget to being married and sharing money can be hard but it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead. Here are some tips and options that can make budgeting and spending as a couple easier:
- Set a general spending limit that requires that you consult your spouse before spending. It can be anything from $50-$500 or more. Whatever you and your spouse are comfortable with the other person spending without consulting you and works with your budget is fine. Just make sure this number is set so you both know what to expect from the other person.
- Get separate accounts for blow money that can be used for whatever you want without consulting your spouse. This method can be used instead of or alongside the method above. Some couples find that it’s easier to have multiple accounts and have their budgeted amounts put into their separate accounts so that they are each accountable for their spending. This works best when there’s still an account for savings and a general account for bills and combined spending.
- Discuss your financial roles. Each person is uniquely gifted and couples come into the marriage with different strengths. While both of you should be involved in the planning and overall decision making process involving money, have a plan for who will handle what. Find ways to incorporate everyone in the process. Create a plan to help improve any financial weaknesses that may exist – either through self study or taking classes – so that you both grow into financial rock stars together.
It’s not uncommon at all for couples to have to renegotiate or change their long term savings goals due to issues with their spouse’s credit. It’s also not uncommon that either or both of the newlyweds are unaware of their own credit history or issues.
Make sure to get reports on both of your credit scores. You can pull a free credit report each year from each of the three credit report agencies. Pull all three because each report will likely contain different information.
Reviewing your loved one’s credit report is a simple way to ensure that no one is keep a credit secret.
Put it All Out There
Part of the beauty of marriage is combining two lives and working together as a team to get where you want to be in life.
Starting off on the right foot financially will be a huge benefit to both of you. Money is definitely an issue worth talking about before marriage. Keeping credit secrets leads to unhealthy surprises.
Learning about unexpected debt or credit challenges after you say “I do” will not be a fun experience down the road.
Elle Martinez of Couple Money encourages couples to have a “money date”. Use this time to share all of your financial details and make plans for addressing any challenges.
Marriage is for better or for worse so remember this when you see your betrothed’s monetary situation unfold. Be gracious but honest with each other. How you deal with money will have a huge impact on your marriage forever.
Enlist the help of a financial expert to help you make a plan or sign up for a complimentary consultation for help dealing with a credit secret before you put a ring on it.