Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery? Or, maybe about discovering you are the sole heir to a fortune? Who doesn’t like picking up a few extra dollars? Money is near and dear to a lot of hearts. Even those who are big givers are excited to receive a random check in the mail or a raise at work. In order to obtain goods and services, money is required in most circumstances.
Obviously, we should not love money. That is, we should not devote our lives to gaining more of it all while pushing away our families, dreams, and the Lord. The love of money truly is the root of all kinds of evil (I Timothy 6:10). We do need purchasing power to survive, but loving it will lead us down a dark path!
If you asked a hundred people who were divorced last year if money fights and money problems contributed to the breakdown of their communication, chances are you would get more than 70 people who said, “Yes!” How we spend (and save… or, not save) our money is near and dear to our hearts. We see money not only as a resource to buy our necessities, but as a source of hope for the future, of fun, of giving, of security, and (sometimes) of prestige.
When couples butt heads on how to handle finances before marriage, they can expect many unpleasant conversations (i.e., arguments/fights) after marriage. Think of all the wasted time and energy! And, if one person “wins” the money battle, then that does not mean the other won’t spend quietly under the table anyway.
However, couples can actually draw closer together while learning about money and creating a workable financial plan. If you and your sweetie get on the same page financially before getting engaged, you will be saving yourselves a lot of time and energy in the long run!
Consider implementing these three monetary connection tips before getting engaged:
- Discuss Your Monetary Philosophies in Detail. Some people are all about saving for a rainy day. Others want to live in the moment and worry about consequences later. Some people fall beautifully in between the two extremes. So, talk about your financial philosophy. How do you think money should be handled? How did your parents handle money? What do you like about their money management styles and what do you want to do differently in your household? If you wanted to go on a cruise, but you were short on money, would you charge it or would you wait until you had the money in your account? What does money mean to you – security, power, prestige, fun, status? On a scale from 1-100, with one being completely carefree and 100 being completely stingy, where would you fall on this spender/saver scale?
- Each of You Create a Personal Budget and Share the Experience with Each other. However, do not become tempted to combine your finances. In fact, do not combine your money until after you are married – no matter how much you trust each other or how certain you are that you will marry. If you are not already on a budget, create one (each separately) for your current financial situation. You can find some budgeting helps online, or buy Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (an excellent read) and use the budgeting sheets in the back of the book. Be as detailed as possible, and live on it for a while before getting engaged. Prove that you are both willing and able to budget your money and delay gratification (something you will have to do constantly in marriage and parenthood). If you are comfortable with the other knowing about your financial situation, you can share your budgets with each other. Your sweetie may have insights which could help you financially. ~smile~
- Take a Dave Ramsey Course Together. Eric and I wish every couple would take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) course before tying the knot. After paying for the kit, you can go through the course as many times as you’d like for the rest of your life. Engaged couples can even go through the class for the cost of one kit as long as the wedding is set for less than a year from the start of the class. Eric and I learned so much through this course, but unfortunately it was after we had made some significant money decisions (which we would have probably chosen differently had we known)! Don’t wait until you are a newlywed waist deep in debt to go through this class. Dave is funny, his principles are tried and true, and he has a Christian worldview! You can find a FPU class by going here. Taking the steps required to be on the same financial page is one of the best ways to nourish your connection. Though you may not feel magically closer during your budget committee meetings, you will be saving yourself from scores of connection-damaging money arguments later.
The tips above are not earth-shattering or new and innovative, but they are three giant steps towards ensuring a peaceful financial future for you and your sweetheart! Make sure you agree about finances before getting engaged!
Do you and your sweetie have complementary views on money management?