My cousin is getting married this weekend and this week we have reached critical mass.  Or maybe mass hysteria is the term I’m looking for.  Do we have everyone properly seated at the reception?  Does everyone know where they need to be and when they need to be there?  Is everyone getting into town on time?  Who is doing this, that, and the other thing?  Each of these questions has been asked more than once and the level of stress involved in each detail goes up exponentially each day that passes.  It’s exhausting.  Add in the time/money/energy invested in finding the locations for everything and it quickly becomes overwhelming.  Anyone who has been through it knows this can be both the happiest and most grueling of times.

One piece of advice for my cousin, her future husband, and anyone else excitedly tying the knot this wedding season.  Please ignore the doom and gloom predictions about 50% of marriages ending in divorce (you’re in the good half, right?) and focus on what many people say drove them to break up.  Money.  Specifically, disagreements between spouses about money and how it is handled.  Is money the only reason people part ways?  Do all disagreements about money lead to divorce?  Is money the most important thing you can ever talk about with your spouse?  We could keep going on with the ridiculous questions, but clearly the answer to all of them is no.  The key is to communicate early and often about this topic.

I don’t have a comprehensive list of questions to ask one another, but the starting point is to figure out what you value.  What is important to you in general, and how does that impact the money in your lives?  Do you want a big family?  Want to go on nice vacations every year?  Want to ensure your kids graduate college debt-free?  These values may change over time, but the key is to start the discussion now so you, your spouse, and your finances are all in agreement.

The 10-20-70 principle is a great starting point for agreement between the two of you.  Start by paying yourself first (saving) 10% of every dollar earned.  Don’t spend more than 20% of your income paying off debt (credit cards, car payments, wedding expenses, etc.), and the remaining 70% should be aligned with the values you have agreed upon.  Simple, but not always easy.

Please reach out if you would like to discuss anything related to money.  All marriage questions were answered yesterday, sorry.

Congratulations to Sally and Eric.  I love you and wish you all the best.

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