Tips on avoiding marriage's No. 1 pitfall: money troubles

Newlyweds and couples moving toward marriage, take note. Love, as it turns out, is not all you need.
By ALEX VEIGA Published: May 20, 2012
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Newlyweds and couples moving toward marriage, take note. Love, as it turns out, is not all you need.

Not if your goal is to avoid the No. 1 reason marriages end in divorce: Money problems.

Everyone knows, or should know, this. But love and a reluctance to take a hard look at our own financial habits, often keep us from seeing, much less confronting, potential financial troubles in a relationship.

Failing to do so, however, can lead to serious post-wedding day troubles.

“Mature, responsible conversations about money are a sign of a marriage that's going to be healthy and wonderful and enduring,” says Brooke Salvini, a certified financial planner based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “If you can't talk about money when you are dating, that is a red flag right there.”

To get the conversation rolling, here are seven steps experts recommend to steer clear of potential marital money troubles:

DISCLOSE ALL OF YOUR FINANCIAL RECORDS

Before corporations merge they go through a period when both sides get a close look at each other's financial records. Take the same approach before you get hitched.

Swap statements for your bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, retirement accounts and so on. Also share credit reports and FICO scores.

“Not only can you start to put together a balance sheet of what the two of you own and what your debts are, you can start to discuss ‘do we want to combine our checking account?'” says Salvini.

DISCUSS FINANCIAL GOALS

A huge part of getting in sync with your spouse begins with discussing major life goals and the necessary financial commitments.

Discuss short-term goals, such as paying off credit card debt, and then craft a budget that sets you clearly on a path toward your goals.

BUDGET YOUR SPENDING

Failing to create and stick to a mutually agreed upon budget can lead to marital strife.

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