Are You Financially Ready for Marriage?

Are You Financially Ready for Marriage?

You’ve picked out the perfect Christmas present—an engagement ring. Her family is on board and sworn to secrecy. The plan is all set. It will be the best engagement ever. Then, you go to the jeweler and see the price tag on the ring. Suddenly, you’re starting to wonder if your wallet is going to make it past the wedding. Before your cold sweat puts a freeze on your plans, read ahead to see what kind of shape you’re really in.

Have You Been Tracking Your Finances Over the Years?

Past indications count for a great deal. Starting a new marriage is a difficult enough transition. If you also have to start from the beginning learning how to budget and allocate funds, your stress level could run high.

It’s better to start a marriage without having to learn something brand new. Especially something as important as money management. If you haven’t been watching where your money has been going, you may consider doing this for several months before popping the question to make sure it’s something you really understand.

Do you have a Budget for This Year?

Watching your expenditures and planning your spending are two separate ideas. You may watch your money to see that you haven’t spent more than you made last month, but a budget is where you actually have a plan for where the money is going. Budgets are extremely important when you are starting a family, even a family of two, because it might be the first time in your life that you need to save up for something that you couldn’t pay for all at once, like a house.

If you have a personal budget, hopefully you already know where you will be able to pull some savings. And if you both have personal budgets, merging the two together will be a lot simpler than you think.

How About Next Year and Beyond?

Remember how we were just talking about saving up for something big? Your wedding could be your first true test. Regardless of family situations or wedding sizes, the bride and groom almost always contribute something toward the events surrounding the big day. This trend has been seen increasingly over the years and even more as couples marry later in life.

Now is the time, especially just before the new year begins, to take a look at your budget for next year to see how much is in your savings for a dress, a photographer, a venue, a honeymoon, or even just for the ring itself. Will these expenses wipe out your savings altogether? If so, you may want to take a little more time before proposing. Plenty more expenses will come even after the wedding.

Are You Contributing to an Emergency Fund?

An emergency fund is different from a savings account. An emergency fund is something you don’t want to touch unless you have to. What would happen if you lost your job when you got back from your honeymoon? If you have a good emergency fund, you can cut your stress considerably while working on Plan B. Ideally, you want to have 3-6 months’ salary in place, but as long as you have a decent start and enough of a regular contribution to reach that goal, you should be fine.

Can You Discuss This with Your Fiancée?

A considerable number of marital problems arise from the topic of finances. So many problems can come from keeping secrets about your financial situation. If one spouse is a spender and one is a saver, feelings can be hurt and debt can be accumulated if they aren’t talking to one another.

Both partners should be aware of how much money is in the budget to be spent in any category, and neither should be hiding expenses from the other. Open communication is the key and should be set as a precedent from the start. If you aren’t ready to share your financial situation with your partner, you might not be ready to share your life with them.

While it may look like there is lot of work that must be done getting your financial act together before proposing, it should be a comfort if you have someone willing to work with you on it. When you’ve got someone there to take every step with you right from the beginning, that’s when you know you’ve found a keeper.