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How To Talk About Money With Your Fiancé | Northern VA Wedding Photographer
When I Googled “top things couples fight about,” I confirmed my suspicion that money was in the top 3 of most results. Finances can be both a huge stressor and a key source of security in our lives. As a married couple, my husband and I are navigating life with combined finances. Which means we discuss money topics often. It takes communication, understanding, and patience to merge financial lives together in a marriage.
As we meet and work with young engaged couples, we grow in our desire to invest into them. I might only be a Virginia wedding photographer, but I truly want to see my clients succeed in their marriages… as a team. But some of the topics you discuss during your engagement can be difficult. If you’re like we were, you might not know where to begin or you avoid conversations out of fears of starting an argument.
But it is well worth the try. You need to communicate with this person, especially when it comes to finances. Your marriage is very similar to a business. If you don’t manage the resources that come in and out of your marriage, it will fail.
Where To Begin
There are many money topics my husband and I discussed before our wedding day. And we were served well by coming to the table with open minds and patient hearts for one another. We still work through differences and challenges today, and probably will for a lifetime. Sometimes that leads to a fight. But just like we said in our vows, we try to remember “It’s you and me versus the problem, not you versus me.”
It is helpful to know your money VALUES as you begin these conversations. Below is a list of perspectives and values that my husband and I have when it comes to finances. We discussed these early and often in our relationship, and these principles have become a helpful guide for making monetary decisions.
It’s important to note that these are OUR values, and not what I’m saying should be yours. You and your fiancé need to figure that out on your own. But maybe some of these will resonate with you:
Our Money Values:
Debt is a drain on our finances, and our joy. For this reason, we resolved to enter our marriage with 0 debt! I paid off my car in one lump sum out of my savings just to achieve this goal. And we luckily had no student loans or other debt left to pay off when we said “I do.” The result was a stress-free environment to save for our wedding and honeymoon. And the JOY of enjoying it knowing we could pay cash! We also agree that we will avoid debt like the plague (except for a home mortgage) for the rest of our lives if we can.
A husband and wife should combine finances. We believe that “the two shall become one” applies to every aspect of our marriage, including our finances. There is a beautiful accountability that comes with sharing bank accounts and credit cards. But it also helps us move towards goals as a team. What I bring in is ours, what he brings in is ours. If one of us dips in income, the other is there to pick their spouse up. The support goes both ways.
Spend less than you make! Kevin and I agreed early on, if we can’t pay cash for it, we can’t afford it. We set up a strict budget at the start of each month that helps us track what we’re spending where. And we begin by reporting how much we’re bringing in each month and divvying up from that amount. It’s really easy using our favorite budgeting tool, Copilot!
God deserves 10% of our earnings, BEFORE the government takes from it. This might be a highly personal decision for many of you. But Kevin and I tithe 10% of our pre-taxed income to our home church. We do so on a monthly basis. The reason we take 10% of our pre-taxed income comes from our belief that God deserves his share before the government takes theirs. It is a small outward way that we show our allegiance to God above earthly authorities.
We want to help people that A) truly need it, B) are doing their best to help themselves, C) we both agree and feel called to help, and D) as long as our family is safe. This one probably sounds harsh so let me explain. We WANT to be a blessing through our finances, especially as we create margin in our own lives. As long as we do not inadvertently create an unsafe situation for our family or provide ways for people to continue hurting themselves. By reserving our generosity for impactful purposes, we can give more and make greater impact for Christ’s kingdom in the lives of those who have need. This could be a whole other blog post!
10 Topics About Finances to Discuss With Your Fiancé
Once you’ve established core, common values, you can get into specifics! Here are a list of 10 topics to open up about with your future spouse.
Debt – How much debt do you each have? What is your plan for paying it off? When do you expect to be debt-free?
Spending Habits – What do you spend the most money on? What do you struggle with in your spending habits? What are positive spending habits you have? What is your expectation around your spouse’s spending habits?
Saving Habits – How much money do you have saved? Do you have an “emergency fund?” Are you a big saver, or a big spender? How much money do you plan to save on a monthly basis? Yearly?
Budgeting – How will you budget? How often? When will you have budgeting meetings together to check-in? What categories need to be put into your budget?
Income & Career Goals – How much do you make? How much will you make in a year, 5 years, 10? What are your career goals? Does one of you aspire to change careers or transition to stay at home? What age do you expect to retire?
Investing – Do you invest? How/where? How much do you have in your investments? Does either of you have, or need to, work with a financial coach or investment professional?
Milestone Goals – Do you want kids? To own a house? Vacation goals? When/how? Where will you “settle down?” How much money do you expect to have for each stage of life?
Financial Upbringing – How did your parents handle money? As a kid, did you believe you were poor, rich, or were you unaware of money altogether? In your household, who was the spender vs. the saver? (TIP: Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruz wrote a book on this topic that can be really helpful for understanding how your upbringing affects your financial life today!)
Defining Wealth – What does “wealthy” mean to you? What lifestyle do you aspire to have? What are you willing to do to achieve that?
Giving – Will you tithe? Will you set aside separate funds for charitable or spontaneous giving? Who will you help financially, and when? How will you determine between a financial giving moment or a time investment to help others?
If you struggle with finances, or these conversations seem confusing and weedy, there are lots of resources available to help you! Be warned, there are a TON of opinions on the internet about finances. But not all advice is wise. I’m not claiming to be a financial expert, but I have seen great success in finances by watching my parents in running their home and business (and eventually retiring well), as well as applying many of the principles I mentioned above and seeing it work for me.
Here are some resources I recommend to start learning more and exploring your financial plan:
Anything by Dave Ramsey and the Ramsey Network! They have YouTube videos, books, a budgeting app called Every Dollar, and a Financial Peace University course that sometimes is offered through local churches.
The Copilot budgeting app. This is my husband’s and my favorite budgeting app! It’s not free, but you can get 2 months of free trial by clicking HERE and using my code: VE88V4
The Money with Katie Show. This podcast is produced by Morning Brew and puts complex financial concepts in layman’s terms! Easy listen on your morning commute or while winding down before bed.
A good accountant! I SWEAR by my accountant, Rocco Tundo of Marinnucci & Associates CPA. He’s a hot commodity in the wedding photography community. I learned of him via my friend Alex who also owns a photography business. And he’s AWESOME. He manages both my business and personal taxes and teaches me tips for maximizing my return in preparation for tax season.
A good bookkeeper! If you have a creative service business and numbers give you hives, you need to meet my book keeper Kirsti Dory of Dory Dimes. She’s a badass and is so encouraging and validating to even small business owners like me.
Also, if this post was helpful, and you want some wedding planning advice that will help you stay on budget, see these posts below!
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