Takeaways from Your Money and Your Man: Part 2

From Michelle Singletary’s Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich

Part 2: Then Comes Marriage

  1. How much debt is okay when paying for a wedding? None! Weddings should be a cash affair–as in, all expenses should be paid with cash. If you use a credit card, make sure you pay the bill off in full. A wedding is a luxury, not a necessity. It’s foolish to fund a wedding on a credit card.
  2. Fast-forward ten years. What will you remember from your wedding? If money is tight, spend what money you have on things that will have “memory value,” such as the wedding photos. Trust me, if you’re still married in ten years, your wedding guests won’t even remember what type of flowers you had on the reception table or the wedding favor.
  3. Asking directly or indirectly for wedding guests to give you money to help pay for a car, home, maid service, or honeymoon is just being avaricious.
  4. Keeping a joint account is not that hard. Deep down, couple who object to joint accounts really are objecting to the notion that they might actually have to communit with their spouse about what they are spending or saving (or not saving).
  5. When you get married, treat your marriage like a financial partnership. There should be no hers or his–just ours.
  6. While it’s important to trust your spouse, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep tabs on what’s going on.
  7. The reward for having joint accounts is that you can rejoice in each other’s financial accomplishments, because they become your own.
  8. If you want financial peace in your household, develop a set of House Rules to govern your financial behavior as a married couple.
  9. When you get married, it’s not all about your wants anymore. You have another person’s feelings and desires to consider. Marriage means compromising. And when you compromise, it doesn’t mean there are two losers.
  10. You’ve got to plan so you know where you are going, and that means creating a budget.
  11. If you had enough faith in your man to marry him and trust him with your life, you need to trust him with your money.
  12. Credit is a game, and you had better know the rules. If you’re going to use credit cards, you need to manage them to maximize your credit score (Major parts: 35% payment history and 30% amount owed).
  13. It’s essential that you help prepare your joint tax return. Don’t sign any forms until your review them thoroughly.
  14. Remember, on a join return both taxpayers are jointly and individually responsible for the tax and any interest or penalty due on the return, even if you later divorce. If your divorce decree states that your ex is responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns, you may still be held responsible for all the tax due. If your spouse did do something improper, you can apply for innocent spouse relief, but it’s not easy to get.
  15. Before you decide to have a baby, include in your financial planning the possibility that either you or your spouse may want to be a stay-at-home parent.
  16. It is possible to live on one salary but it will take financial discipline. Before the baby comes, keep your debts down. If you can, buy a home that you can afford on one salary.
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