We surveyed our online audience about advice they wish they would have received before they got married. One thing that saddened us is that quite a few responses said…”What advice?!” There are many Christians (and non-Christians alike) that have never received solid financial advice to consider before getting married, such as how to manage a budget as a couple.
Today’s episode is a bonus episode in our series on marriage, because we just could not leave off where we did when we realized that there is such a great need for solid Biblical advice before and/or just in the early days of marriage. So, with this bonus episode we wanted to provide some financial advice for couples planning to tie the knot!
Now, if you’re listening in and you are a Pastor, consider this episode as a checklist for your premarital counseling. And, may we encourage you to add this episode to your “homework” that you give to your pre-marital couple so they start off going in the right, and Biblical financial direction.
If you are looking to get married, this episode is for you! Listen to it with your fiancée. It very well may save you from massive financial challenges and problems down the road.
Financial Advice for Before You Get Married
Premarital Financial Advice
Discuss your financial background, experiences, and upbringing. Your desire is to become “one” in marriage, right? Since that is the desire, and the Biblical mandate found in Genesis 2:24 (the two shall become one flesh), then as much as your past would be good to discuss as you prepare to get married and truly become “one” before God and others! Focus on areas of financial trauma that you may have experienced.
Fully disclose all assets and debts that each couple is bringing into the marriage. Not just the amounts, but also the interest rates, payment schedules, late payments, the purpose of the debt, and the plan for repayment. It may not be a bad idea to review each other’s credit history/score so that you are all on the same page. This is not meant to shame anyone. But both spouses need to know what the other spouse is bringing into the marriage so that they can create a plan to move forward.
Both spouses acknowledge and embrace each other, knowing full well all the financial baggage that they may be bringing into the marriage. If there are significant financial behavioral challenges (foolish spending, proven record of poor decisions), it would be wise for that spouse to get extra/professional counseling and support before heading to the altar.
If you’re just thinking about getting married, don’t buy a house (or any titled asset) with your girlfriend/boyfriend/fiance. If you have a set wedding date, and the invitations are out, and you have the opportunity to buy a house, and the settlement is a few weeks before the marriage, we can deal with that! However, know for sure that there is certainly a risk in doing this BEFORE you get married.
Have conversations about financial dreams and goals. Understanding each other’s goals will help you structure your finances in those beginning days. It would be very good to discuss when to buy your first home, if, and when to have kids.
Work together to mock up a budget. We suggest that you do this before you get married using real (or as close to real) numbers as you can get. In a few moments we will be talking about living on one income, and try to do this if you can.
Create a combined debt repayment plan to implement as a couple. Be on the same page and work hard to eliminate debt as soon as possible. The sooner you are free from debt, the sooner you can build assets and wealth to see your family thrive and have resources for greater Kingdom impact.
Define financial roles and responsibilities. Just don’t expect one person to do it all. Talk about roles and responsibilities. Be willing to be flexible and change roles as needs arise.
Conversation about the use of debt. This is a conversation that EVERY couple should have, whether you plan on getting married, you are newly married, or have been married 10 years! Is debt allowed? If so, why, how much and key parameters. What are your commitments if there is a use of debt?
Financial Advice for Newlyweds
Once you are married, combine your incomes and assets. We’re not saying that you have to have a joint retirement account (that actually doesn’t exist). But you should have joint bank accounts. List each other as beneficiaries. Have full clarity and transparency on all assets and spending! Put each other on your credit card accounts as well. No solo credit cards or bank accounts!
Where possible, live on one income instead of two. This can be a game changer for many couples! Save the smaller of the two incomes or use it to pay down debts! By doing this it prepares you for having children and the potential dropping of one income. By doing this, if you can, you don’t become dependent on two incomes.
Make goals and have a plan. If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit nothing. Or better said, you will achieve nothing. Luke 14:28–30 (NKJV). Jesus asked, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”
Have retirement accounts in both names. You never are guaranteed to have tomorrow, and with that in mind, do all you can to make sure your spouse is well taken care of. One way you can do that is to do this: Save in ROTH IRAs for both spouses. Even if one spouse doesn’t work, the working spouse should save into a retirement account that is in the stay-at-home spouse’s name. This shows unity and the willingness to work together.
Avoid Financial Manipulation in the marriage. Here is a good example: One spouse has EVERYTHING in their name, and controls everything, and we mean, EVERYTHING. When this is done, it leaves the other spouse in the dark and results in an environment ripe with fear. Also, if there are challenges relationally in the marriage (in this scenario, YES, there is already) then the one spouse is left high-and-dry with no access to assets and cash flow.
If you are like many of the couples that got, or getting married, you most likely said these words in your vows:
“For better or for worse, for rich or for poor…”
- It’s easy to make this vow, without really knowing what it means.
- It’s easy to say. But when “the worse” or “the poor” comes, are you still willing to commit to living rightly with your spouse?
- Are you going to despise your spouse or become resentful?
- Are they a financial mess that you are becoming embittered against?
- Or are you softening your heart towards your spouse, remembering that you are on the same team?
- Your spouse is not your enemy. Remember Gen. 2:24…You two are one flesh!
Since God created and values marriage, we should work hard to make sure we are setting up our marriages for success! Implementing these pieces of premarital financial advice in your counseling or wedding preparation could help get your marriage off to a great start.
Today, both inside and outside the church, money is a one of the largest factors for separation and divorce. When we are loving God well…and our future spouse, we will want to do everything that we can to apply Biblical wisdom to our current and future financial decisions. And when we do that early in our relationship with each other, we will be laying the groundwork for a fruitful and blessed marriage.
Our biggest takeaways from this episode for you are simple:
- Have a plan
- Work together to implement your plan
- Base your marriage (and finances) on God’s Word and His Principles for money and marriage.
See the other episodes in our Marriage Series
- 155: How to Navigate Money Conflicts in Marriage
- 156: Why is Money So Contentious in Marriage?
- 157: 9 Misconceptions of Money in Marriage
- 158: Is Lack or Abundance Harder on a Marriage?
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