This is the third in a three-part series exploring money and marriage. A recent survey found that debt can, at least temporarily, derail a couple's plans to get married. We’ll talk to two couples who turned to Dupaco Community Credit Union to help tidy up their finances before tying the knot. Plus, we'll offer financial advice for other soon-to-be married couples. To the bride and groom!
It's no secret that financial strain puts a heavy burden on marriage.
So much so that debt load is a reason why some couples are putting off tying the knot, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
The foundation reported that 37 percent of 2,170 visitors to its website in late January said if a potential spouse had a lot of debt they would not marry them, according to the Credit Union Times.
"Close to half of all marriages in America end in divorce, with financial strain often cited as the culprit," the foundation said when announcing the survey. "Therefore, it is no surprise that people are reluctant to start off on the wrong financial foot."
Here's the good news: By working with a financial coach, couples can tidy up their finances before tying the knot to set both their money and marriage up for success. And it appears more couples are doing just that.
"We are seeing more couples than in the past wanting to be financially secure and open and honest about their finances before they get married," says Cindy Hilkin, a loan consultant at Dupaco.
When couples are aware of one another's finances and incorporate a plan to pay off debts, it helps alleviate stress in the future, says Jill Rothenberger, a lending consultant supervisor at Dupaco's JFK branch.
"I always say you should pull a credit report on your significant other and discuss financial goals before you tie the knot," Rothenberger says.
Couples can start by scheduling a free Money Makeover at Dupaco. The credit union can help couples "make over" their finances – showing ways to both cut costs and build savings.
During the process, it's important for couples to be honest with one another about their financial goals, bills and debts. All of that will be very difficult to hide once they're married, Hilkin points out.
As couples prepare to merge their lives and finances, here are some other questions to address together:
- Are you both saving enough for retirement?
- Do you have life insurance to care for your loved one in case the unexpected happens?
- How will your bills – including everything from utility payments to cell phone payments – change?
- Whose insurance company will you use?
- What financial institution will you use?
- Do you need to add your significant other as a beneficiary on your accounts?
"All of a sudden, two separate finances become one," Hilkin says. "There are a lot of things you will probably have to change. A Money Makeover will help you look at the whole picture of what's going on with your finances and budget."
By Emily Kittle