In a few mere magical moments "I" becomes "we," when couples decide to get married. For better or for worse. For richer, for poorer.
Let's pause there for a moment.
Studies indicate that finances are among the biggest sources of tension and conflict in even the best marriages. Here are some thoughts on how couples can navigate the subject of money before saying "I do."
* SPENDING HABITS -- "Spending has to be addressed from the standpoint that you approach marriage. If you are making a commitment to bring another person in your life, that should be reason enough to want to make a change in our spending habits," said Sal Geraci, one of the owners of HHM Wealth Advisers in Chattanooga. Consult each other when making purchases over a certain dollar amount and develop a comfort zone on spending habits, he said. "Beware of building false lifestyle based on someone else's income such as parents," Mr. Geraci said. "Depend solely on your incomes, it's nice if parents are generous enough to do things, but don't depend on that."
* FINANCIAL SKELETONS AND GROWTH -- "Your survival is based on your income exceeding what you outflow over time," Mr. Geraci said. "The first avenue of attack is for the couple to discuss those things first and recognize how past actions, such as credit card spending can impact the future." Be sure to discuss whether there's been a past bankruptcy, student and other loans and credit scores, he said. "Arriving at an understanding as to how they want to grow financially over time is important," Mr. Geraci said.
* PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT -- "The realities are, even if things are great now, it's beneficial to know the consequences if there is a dissolution in the future," said Bill Pemerton of Maddox and Anderson PLLC law firm in Chattanooga. "You have to take a realist approach." He suggested each person should seek their own counsel before signing an agreement and discuss any clauses they're not comfortable with. "I'm not saying that everyone needs one, but its something everyone should certainly consider," he said.
Sunday: Wedding season in bloom
Tuesday: Engagement rings
TODAY: Financial concerns
Thursday: Stretching the dollar for the event
* IF THE WEDDING IS CALLED OFF -- If a couple decides to cancel the wedding, Gayle O'Brien of The Cottage, a Chattanooga wedding consultant, recommends contacting vendors immediately, determining who is responsible for money already spent, returning wedding gifts and canceling honeymoon reservations. Additionally, notify guests via cards the wedding isn't happening, she said. Additionally, Ms. O'Brien says the most important thing is for individuals to consider counseling to help cope and maintain emotional stability.
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