Getting married is exciting, exhilarating — and expensive. Some deduce that two incomes are better than one, and therefore marriage is a smart financial proposition. This may not always be the case, though, and there are important points to consider before taking the leap. Lifestyles, careers, goals and the wedding itself all play into the financial puzzle, so line up all the pieces before you attempt to put it all together.
Traditionally, in the past, the bride's family footed the bill for the bulk of the wedding expenses. But many of those traditions flew out the window as couples pursued high-powered careers with salaries far beyond those of parents. Before saying "I do", determine who is paying for which elements of the wedding. There is a long list of expenses including reception venue, food, flowers, music, rings, dresses, tuxedos, a minister and the all-important cake. Going into debt to pay for an elaborate wedding isn't the best way to start a marriage. Have the talk, set a budget, and plan an event that's memorable but affordable.
Different people have different financial habits and lifestyles. It is important to determine if your financial habits are compatible enough to survive a marriage. If one of you believes in spending money like water while the other puts every penny in savings, there could be trouble in paradise. Having enough money to get married means compromising on spending, saving and planning a financial future. If your money habits are at opposite ends of the spectrum, enlist the aid of a financial adviser to map out a plan that both can live with happily ever after.
If each partner is living independently, combining two households can achieve savings right from the start. If each of you has the ability to maintain a household on your own, you have the option of moving into one place and cutting expenses. If each partner owns a home, then decisions need to be made regarding selling one or both properties, or living in one and leasing the other. But if each of you has been living under a parent's roof with little or no rental expense, you must be sure you have the means to move into new quarters or purchase a place of your own. Don't forget to budget for utilities, food, furnishings and all other items that have been provided for in the past.
If you determine you have the income to cover expenses after marriage, that is step one. But it's also important to weigh security factors into the equation. Job security is a huge factor. A good rule is to have three months of expenses in savings to cover emergency situations such as illness or job loss. Discuss your plans and goals for the future such as desire to relocate to another part of the state or the country, plans for starting a family, retirement funds and savings goals and annual vacations. Planning and budgeting for both goals to achieve and unexpected bumps in the road will help ensure you have enough cash to comfortably cover surprise expenses.
Cindy Phillips began writing feature articles in 2007 with her work appearing in several regional newspapers. With more than 30 years experience in the corporate arena, her business expertise includes all aspects of marketing and management. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts in English education from SUNY New Paltz.