According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association almost three-quarters of Americans named money as the number-one source of stress in their lives. If you don’t pay attention to money, you’re asking for trouble.
Joyce Asmus shares this comprehensive advice from the perspective of watching her friends get into financial trouble:
“Money will always be an area of conflict. You both have different styles where spending vs. saving is concerned. You must face this before you share accounts and bills, and work with a professional to iron your differences out.
“This is particularly important if one or both of you spends more than you make, is behind on bills, or has a lot of debt. In many states, community property laws dictate that debts as well as assets are shared equally by both partners.
“Don’t wreck your credit by taking on his liability! And don’t wreck his credit with your liabilities! If you work together to pay off debts and become solvent before you say “I do,” it will save you a ton of heartache and poverty later!”
Lisa, from the perspective of one brief marriage as a young woman and a second 25-year successful marriage, shares this: “You need to talk about money and be on the same page about each decision, whether it is paying cash for purchases or saving for retirement.”
Every couple that follows this advice avoids an incredible amount of grief. But it’s much harder than it sounds. Most people find it even harder to talk about money than to talk about sex. We often would rather pretend the whole subject didn’t exist, yet it permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. Even the media is filled with advice and conflict about both public and private choices around using money.
Heather wishes she had known about “his lack of value about savings and communication.” And Lisa warns, “What happens when you are dating (frugality, meanness) is amplified after marriage.”
Every kind of difference between the two of you can create a challenge to combining your financial lives.
When your personal belief systems about money come into the picture, the challenge of sharing responsibility about money can seem insurmountable.
On top of this, one or both of you may believe that money matters are too hard, too complicated, too scary, or too boring—so you refuse to pay attention to them.
Unfortunately, yielding to your discomfort about facing money issues together will just make it worse when the proverbial waste hits the fan—and it will.
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