So as most of you know, Allan and I have been thinking about having a baby sometime soon and to us one of the most important things to do before starting a family is making sure we are financially stable. We want to be able to provide for our family and not have the financial stress in our relationship. The statistics are there- divorce rates are high, over 50% now and while many factors play into that high rate, finances is still a leading cause for divorce. Money represents different things to different people. To me it represents stability, security and trust. To some it may represent fear or conflict. It is important in relationships to handle finances appropriately and to have a common goal.
Before Allan and I got engaged we moved in together and we began consolidating our finances. To me, it is important to know everything before you make a commitment like marriage. Know what debt the other person has, have a plan and work as a team toward your plan. We aren't perfect, we started our marriage both with houses of our own and both with some debt. I had my student loans and Allan had his fair share of debt too, but we both had good jobs, good salaries and we had a plan. We still have a little bit of debt, but we feel good where we are today. We are growing in our careers, we have a solid nest egg building, we have retirement plans that are steadily growing and we are able to handle very expensive emergencies like our dogs $7k surgery. This is huge to me. I feel like we are a team and we will get through things together. MBA's at a good school are VERY expensive, so of course we are still tackling my student loans, but they are paying off. I see and hear of couples every day that are having babies or buying expensive things that they can't afford and I can't imagine living this way. I don't want to come home and argue about how we are going to pay for daycare or the house and car payments or argue about not having insurance. Some of the tips Allan and I used in our relationship when we began tackling the finance discussion are:
- Learn your spouse's spending habits, savings and planning philosophies, financial history and earning potential. I like to spend a little more on clothing/shoes/handbags. Allan likes expensive sunglasses and likes to get a few drinks when we go out. He also likes to pick up tabs for everyone- this is something we had to agree on not doing all the time. For some friends we take turns, which is fine, but we do need to save where we can.
- Talk to a pro for help. We both have 401k accounts, a couple of different savings accounts and our everyday account. Having different accounts for different goals is helpful to us.
- Create a financial plan for your marriage. Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years. People usually don't plan this far ahead, I am a huge planner, so I constantly talk about the future. We want to provide for our family, still have fun, take nice vacations, drive nice cars and retire early. We want to be able to attend our kids football games and dance recitals and not have to penny pinch. All of these things require financial stability.
- Review your finances at least once a month. Knowing what eachother spend in a given month keeps eachother on track.
- Stay calm, but tackle money issues head on, and don't give up. Remember, NO Secrets!!
As Allan and I begin our journey to start a family, it is so comforting to know that this is an issue we have thought through and when we do have a baby we don't have this issue to put a strain on our marriage.