Smith: Just married: Some issues to deal with beyond the I do’s

Money issues can make a couple happy and work together in life…or eventually dissolve a relationship.

The three biggest reasons for couples who decide to split—money issues, family issues and sex issues.

I will leave the topic of sex issues out of my column and focus on money issues blending with family issues

A new marriage is a joining of two people together and joining of finances. Money issues can make a couple happy and work together in life to achieve financial goals as a team, or money issues can eventually dissolve a relationship.

Most big changes happen in the first few months and years of a new relationship.  You need to talk about finances.

Review your “new couple” financial plan regularly. Many changes will take place over the many years of a relationship.

Be honest with each other about finances. One of you has to start the conversation.  Look at your combined cash flow.  Review your individual debt, and make sure all debt is discussed.  What debt repayments do each of you have now?

Do you have other family financial commitments?  What financial debt may be in your future together, for example a home, vehicle or new appliances, future travel, etc?

When individuals enter a relationship or marriage, money conversation becomes part of every day life—the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly.

Most individuals have very different money personalities.  Our money personality typically comes from our home life as children watching how our parents interacted with money.

Children who grow up with parents who clip coupons as a way of saving money on consumer purchases, will likely clip coupons as adults. Children whose parents live from pay cheque to pay cheque and do not have any savings may be more likely to accept the same pattern as adults.

Most couples can be a blend of a saver and a spender—totally opposites perhaps, but these couples can learn to blend their money personalities together to achieve their short and long term financial goals.

Mingling money is one of the most important decisions a couple will make on the everyday mix of money.  Your bank account, savings account, retirement accounts and credit cards can all be co-mingled.

If you mingle money you may be asked to keep track of your own personal spending. Tracking helps determine if one person is spending an excessive amount of money while the other person is not spending.

Some couples maintain separate accounts throughout their relationship. It can work both ways as long as each person is content with the structure of how it is set up. It is important to handle debt as a couple.  Existing debt must be paid off as efficiently as possible. Future debt should be carefully discussed before entering the commitment to borrow money for whatever reason.

Your credit rating can be negatively impacted by joining a spouse with a negative credit history. During a pre-relationship commitment, make sure you understand if there is debt and how much debt is involved before you commit to joining a spouse’s financial liabilities.

Communication is key to a happy relationship and communicating about debt is key to enjoying a life long and happy relationship with the person you have chosen as your spouse.

Kelowna Capital News