Money and the rules of engagement

Published on March 29, 2015 4:38 pm, by

He liked it so he put a ring on it! We hope that when he popped the question you responded with a resounding yes, however, when it comes to the economics of your impending engagement, it’s just as important to ask a few of your own …

Personality: What are your attitudes to affairs? (The financial type!)
How well do you really know your partner… ? Sure you can name his favourite football team, know identify his first car (a dusty brown 78 Datsun) and cook his steak the perfect percentage of medium rare, but what about the big money questions – literally!
As any good $129/hr psychologist will tell you: communication is key to a happy, healthy partnership. And if you already feel awkward asking about the inevitable money issues that will arise, perhaps you should reconsider how right your Mr Right really is …

Get into character (No! Not the 50 Shades of Grey type!) and start the discussion by role playing a range of hypothetical situations.
Find out how he responds to that unusually high bill.
Get him to ask you what you consider a reasonable amount to spend on a new car.
Debate who should be in charge of paying for an [insert pricey product].
These kind of examples can help give you a fun, non-confrontational introduction to your money personalities – and an indication if you have compatible attitudes to saving and spending; conflict resolution; and gendered responsibilities.

Use this information as an investment to form a foundation where you both understand each others’ attitudes to money. Then build on this road map by implementing problem solving approaches, deliberating compromises and non-negotiable and establishing mutually agreed upon roles for bearing the responsibility of different decisions. Having both parties involved in setting guidelines, talking about them and reviewing where they are going as a couple, will set you up for a financially firm future!

Pay it off. How do you deal with your debts
Credit cards may not make for the most comfortable first date conversations, but you will be sharing meals, mouthwash and money-issues when you marry your Mr Right, so when he does drop the diamond, you should also take the time to discuss where you both currently stand in terms of debt. Have an honest dialogue about what you owe, and ensure he is also telling the truth about outstanding invoices to avoid contracting his STD (Sexually Transmitted Debt). Prevention is better than cure and there are a few pointers to help you protect yourself from getting sick:

Know what you’re getting into
Be open and honest about your concerns about partnering up with someone who has excess baggage with the bank. Consider how he (and potentially you) will pay it off. Understand how that debt will impact your finances and possibly credit rating as newlyweds. You need to be confident that when you take the vow of sticking together through “richer or poorer”, you recognise what that entails.
Understand your obligations: Think carefully before opening a joint bank account, authorising secondary use of your credit card or going as a guarantor with your guy. Try and get utilities such as water, gas and electricity bills set up jointly – and share the payments.
Get advice: While two may be company and three a crowd, getting professional guidance from a neutral third-party such as a financial advisor, can help you avoid unwanted financial infection! Ask an expert before signing any documents, especially if you’re unsure about the implications.

How will you prepare for your financial future
As you continue together in your combined life journey, don’t be backwards about what you require to move forward.
One of the first conversations you should have after you pop the celebratory Champagne, is to figure out your combined financial incomes. Arming yourself with this information will give you a framework for making the best choices for your budget.
Continue by calculating your individual and joint monthly expenses and address who will be responsible for these repayments. Decide whether you will combine bank accounts. This decision is a hugely personal one, and while ultimately the choice is up to you, merging some of your money into a shared count for common expenses, while keeping an allowance for yourself, seems for many to be the most empowering.
Discuss your aims and expectations to prepare yourself for your financial future. Now is the time to talk renting Vs buying a house; have that heart-to-heart about newlywed big buys (anything from trips to a television) and discuss who will shoulder the stay-at-home responsibilities when (if) children are born.
And finally finish by utilising an online personal finance tracking tool to ensure you stick to them. Call us old romantics, but we love our own MoneyBrilliant budgeting tool . Definitely a proposal worth saying yes too!