If you’ve just gotten engaged, you’re busier than you’ve ever been with thoughts about your upcoming marriage. How will you ever set a date, come up with a guest list, decide what everyone has to wear, choose a venue, host a reception, and plan a honeymoon within the year? And then there’s the wedding budget to worry about – but this is one of the last financial affairs you’ll have to manage before you’re married and it’s a two-player game. Typically, it’s the responsibility of the woman’s family to pay for the wedding while the man’s family takes care of the reception. That means separate finances and separate budgets, but for the last time. Once you’ve tied the knot, you’ll have to deal with the resulting financial knot, and that will go much more smoothly if you plan ahead.
Your First Financial Committee Meeting
According to Dave Ramsey in Financial Peace Revisited, most marriages have a “Nerd” and a “Free Spirit,” a combination that makes spontaneous budgeting a nightmare. Unless you plan financial “meetings,” you’ll butt heads every time the subject is broached because one of you is in love with the budget and the other wants to fling it (and the other spouse) out the window. The reason this tends to happen is that the Nerd cares about the budget, spends time and energy on creating the budget, and expects the budget to become law. The Free Spirit wants to have a say, but isn’t the kind of person who enjoys playing with Quicken, so this spouse is disappointed when he or she isn’t consulted by the Nerd and is simply told what to do with the finances. Ultimately, neither spouse is in the right, and a meeting must be held to come to a reasonable consensus – not just on money, but on values. One of the best things you can do for yourself as the better half of a newlywed couple is to sit down and collaborate on your budget. Here are Dave Ramsey’s recommendations on how to do that successfully.
1. Getting Things Started: The Nerd & the Budget Proposal
When you’re having a meeting of the financial committee, which more than likely consists of one Nerd and one Free Spirit, you need a good place to start. Both of you will need to contribute something in terms of content for the meeting, but it’s the Nerd’s job to start things off with a budget. Nerds, while you’re drafting your budget, you will start to feel as if it’s your baby and you need to protect it from the Free Spirit. Don’t let this happen – think of it as a budget proposal, but make sure you have enough details for a good start.
2. Speaking Up: The Free Spirit & Feedback
Free Spirits, the fact that the Nerd is compiling the budget proposal doesn’t mean you can come to the meeting unprepared. You don’t need to come up with your own counter-budget, but you do need to think about the situation so you’ll have some points to make during the meeting. Consider what you need to spend money on and how much you might need. This will help you engage in the budget discussion – and remember, the more invested you are in the budget, the more likely the Nerd is to pay attention to what you’re saying.
3. Listening & Making Concessions
It’s important for both of you to listen. While the Nerd isn’t literally saying something about the budget, he or she has expressed a detailed opinion through the budget itself. Free Spirits, it helps if you respect the work that’s been done already by reading the budget before you voice your own opinions. Nerds, that means you stay quiet and listen once the Free Spirits start talking to you about the budget. Once you’ve both had your say, you can talk about making concessions to the budget just as any committee would. The budget isn’t the sole property of the Nerd, it’s a collaborative effort to agree on money distribution and values.
4. Agreeing on Finances & Values
With your concessions made, you can now agree on the budget and put it into action. This will give you a strong foundation on which to start your marriage, proving that you’ve agreed on the values that govern everyday life. It’s a great way to prevent the financial fights that destroy so many marriages, so take the time to invest in your life together by agreeing on a budget.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where recently she’s been researching the highest paying associates degrees versus the lowest paying associates degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.