Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days for marriage proposals. I find that when I talk to a newly engaged person, they are so filled with love that it clouds everything up. If you’re about to get married, the best advice I can give you, in Cher’s words in the movie Moonstruck, is to “get through it.”
There’s so much more to marriage than being in love. In my career as a financial planner, I’ve seen so many marriages end under the weight of financial problems that could have been avoided if the couple had taken the time to understand each other’s finances. Who you marry will influence the type of house you live in (in some cases, if you can even buy a house), the type of cars you buy, how much debt you owe, your savings account balance and even your ability to pay. for the college studies of your children or future children. That’s why it’s important to fully understand your fiancé’s net worth (what’s his minus what’s owed to him), his credit score, and his spending plan. Tip: It’s a red flag if you get pushed back when asking your fiancé for these items or if your fiancé has no idea how to get the items.
Before sending engagement announcements, carefully review your fiancé’s finances. They may discover a financial vampire, that is, someone who lacks money management skills and discipline so badly that he or she has the potential to undermine your financial future. There are usually clues that you are marrying a financial vampire:
1) Your fiancé has a ton of credit card debt with no game plan to get out of debt. Dig deeper. Was your fiancé’s debt due to a layoff or some other financial crisis or is your fiancé a habit of using his credit card and staring at you when you ask if he is considering to repay his debt?
2) Your fiancé has a habit of constantly borrowing money or always paying someone back. If you have lent your fiancé money or if he is constantly borrowing money from his family, this is a red flag that your fiancé may be a profiteer or constantly finds himself in financial trouble and expects to borrow to get out of it.
3) Your future spouse tasted caviar on a tuna income. If what your fiancé owns — his car, clothes, and house — doesn’t match his income, it can be a red flag that your fiancé may be living beyond his means. You probably don’t want to be in a situation where you’re constantly working to pay off your spouse’s debts.
4) A mortgage-sized student loan WITH plans to go back to school. I’m all about education, but if your fiancé’s student loan debt is more than his potential starting salary and he’s talking to you about furthering his education, find out his plan for paying for college. You shouldn’t be part of the plan if there isn’t a student loan elimination plan, because once you’re together, that debt is yours too.
5) They have no responsibility. Things happen that can rock our finances. But if your fiancé has a consistent history of unpaid bills, that’s a sign of financial irresponsibility. Is your fiancé taking his share of his financial story or is it never his fault? Don’t expect your fiance to hold himself accountable in other areas of his life if he can’t do so with his finances.
6) Your fiancé has exceeded his account and/or his credit cards are often declined. Do you find yourself paying the bill because their card was declined? Overdrawn accounts and declined credit cards are signs that your fiancé probably doesn’t have a spending plan in place to help manage his finances.
7) They receive collection calls. If your fiancé mentions receiving collection calls, start asking questions to understand the situation. Collection calls mean that there is an outstanding debt that has not been resolved. The last thing you want is for this to be resolved in your marriage, especially when you’re trying to buy a house.
If your fiancé falls into either of these categories, understand the reason for the financial problem. If it’s a role model, you’ll model the behavior. First, consider working with your fiancé to create good financial habits to put your future marriage on the right footing.
If you find talking to your fiancé about money is like talking Greek to someone who only speaks Japanese, consider working with a financial planner or premarital counselor who can help you both be on the same wavelength. If you think your financial situation is serious enough, consider postponing the wedding until the financial situation is resolved. Your financial future will thank you.