Wedding season approaches, and with it many a young couple – and often the brides' parents – will be writing some massive checks.
Before the big day arrives – and too many non-refundable deposits are made – financial advisor Christopher Krell says couples should have a candid conversation about money, including their approaches to both spending and saving.
Financial security is important, but Krell says it's not the only thing at stake. He points to a 2012 study published in the Family Relations Journal that concluded disagreements about money are the main reason marriages hit the rocks.
Kansas State University researcher Sonya Britt participated in that study, and a year later she expanded upon it, reaching the same conclusion.
"Results revealed it didn't matter how much you made or how much you were worth,” Britt said when she published her study. “Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels."
Wedding spending can be an indicator
As we reported not long ago, marriages can get off to a rocky start because couples overspend on their wedding. In a survey, Emory University researchers found that no matter the income level, the more couples spent on their wedding, the shorter the marriage. Spending less than $1,000 on the big day significantly reduced the likelihood of divorce.
Because of the importance money plays in a relationship, Krell said he specializes in trying to get couples on the same page when it comes to financial planning. There are potential pitfalls in a financial relationship, and Krell says there are steps you can take to avoid them.
What to do
Communicate – You have to be able to have an honest conversation about money without it ending in a fight.
Organize – Figure out what you need to spend on essentials and what you can save each month. When you plan a budget, do it together. Both parties have to buy in or it won't work.
Get out of debt – It might take a while, but come up with a plan to pay off credit card balances. Pay more than the minimum, but don't overpay either. Commit to a monthly amount you can live with and pay it month in and month out until the balance is paid off.
Set goals – When you put money aside, have a plan for it. Part of it should be for retirement. Part should be for emergencies. Part should be for trips or special events. When those times arrive, you'll have money to pay for gifts or vacations and you won't have to load up your credit cards again.
Krell estimates more than two million couples will get married in 2016. Of those, more than 800,000 are likely to get a divorce or annulment.
“In many cases, these couples could have avoided divorce if they’d communicated from the beginning, had a good financial plan and aligned their finances,” Krell said.