Congratulations! You are endeavoring to step forward onto the path of lifelong love, commitment, and togetherness with someone you cannot live without. You’ve made the wedding plans, you’ve done the responsible thing and mapped out your five year plan in detail (savings, spending, investments, mortgage, and eventually kids), and now you’re as excited as punch to share your secure and detailed plan with your future spouse. You are so excited about what the future holds for you and your beloved one until you show them your brilliant financial plan and they turn as white as a sheet.
What could make your future partner for life go from the excited spouse-to-be to the terrified shell of a human before you? Are they hiding financial secrets? Is there something buried in their financial past that can turn your five year plan into five years of money hell?
Should you consider putting off the wedding until there is some financial transparency in your relationship, and when you find out the secrets they’ve been keeping, will you call the whole thing off or soldier on for the sake of true love?
That’s a lot of questions to answer, so this article will be broken into two parts. The first thing you need to do is to finish reading this article, and then shake off your rage and frustration and finish reading Part Two.
Before you call the preacher, caterer, and florist to call the whole thing off, you might want to consider finding out what financial secrets your partner is keeping. Some things, like defaulted student loans, aren’t as bad as $50,000 in gambling debt.
Let’s take a look at a few of the different kinds of financial secrets that people keep from each other. Yes, even people in relationships keep money secrets, which may already be an indicator of future issues.
Out of the hundreds of millions of people in the US, more than half of them have some form of debt such as credit card debt, school loan debt, mortgages, car financing, etc. Debt in and of itself isn’t a problem, unless that debt is so deep and entrenched that your partner couldn’t get a checking account no matter how hard he or she tried. If your partner is in debt, you can either add that debt to your five year plan to pay off over the course of the five years, ask them to pay down the debt before getting married, or just write them off completely. Yes, the latter option seems cold-hearted, but in the end the question is, “Do you want to spend your life with someone who has made and continued to make bad choices with other people’s money?”
Out of all the addictions prevalent in the US, gambling is one of the most often hidden addictions. It is so easy to get online, play a few games of poker or Black Jack, lose, play again, lose, play again, win just enough to get the juices flowing again, play again, and then lose everything–without anyone really knowing. Unless someone shares a bank account with you, or has access to your money, he or she might not have a clue. By the end of the night your partner has lost thousands of dollars that he or she may or may not actually have to lose. Is that your money he or she is gambling away? Is that your future mortgage payment he or she is squandering on card games? Is he or she putting his or her momentary gratification before your secure future together?
Gambling is an addiction that is hard to break, and before you say, “I do”, you might want to say, “intervention.”
General Financial Ignorance
Sometimes past financial mistakes are just the result of poor financial planning, but sometimes they are the result of a complete and utter lack of money common sense. To your partner, is balancing a check book more like learning advanced physics? Does your partner max out each and every credit card in his or her wallet without ever considering that the money needs to be paid back? Does your partner shop like there’s no tomorrow and then hide the bill when tomorrow comes? Can you count the number of times he or she has paid the bills on time on one hand?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, you might want to consider enrolling your future spouse in a financial skills course, allowing time for them to prove that they’ve learned financial responsibility, and then setting the NEW date for your wedding.
The truth is that money is one of the biggest reasons marriages fall apart. If you start your marriage with financial secrets, a financially irresponsible spouse, and a boat load of debt, you can rest assured that your marriage won’t last long–so why get married in the first place?
Well, we’ll answer that question in Part Two of this article. Read on, I dare you.