Engagement: Who should pay for the engagement, wedding, honeymoon costs?
Now is the time people have to start negotiating about how expenses will be shared.
Deciding how you’ll split wedding costs, for instance, can be very enlightening.
“When you start talking about who will pay for what, you may uncover different values you may have,” says Judith Rosenthal, a senior financial advisor with Ameriprise in New York.
If he can’t afford to give you a ring (or the ring that you want), it could mean that he is in debt or maybe doesn’t think it makes sense to that much money on it. Finding out whether his or her parents were stingy, extremely generous or somewhere in between can shed some light on your partner's thinking about money, says certified financial planner Timothy Maurer of The Financial Consulate in Lutherville, Md.
Bottom line: It’s your fiancé’s views that count. Talk about what you can afford to spend on what and avoid putting expenses on credit cards. You don’t want to still be paying for your wedding on your 10th anniversary.
Marriage: Should we set up separate or joint accounts for expenses and savings?
The PayPal survey also found about half of American couples share bank accounts, but that may not be the best solution.
If you haven’t lived together before, you are just starting to negotiate about living expenses. The “who will pay for what” conversation that started with wedding costs now expands to who’ll pay the rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries and other bills? How much will we save? If you have bad credit and debt issues and your partner has no debt and excellent credit, it may not make sense to join your finances.
“Yours, mine and ours” accounts work well for many couples. Set up a joint account for household expenses and put a percentage of your income into that pot. Also keep separate checking accounts for personal expenses (from big ticket items such as a spa day or a golf outing to small, frequent expenses such as iTunes downloads and magazine subscriptions).
If there are credit issues, go to a non-profit credit-counseling center (the National Foundation For Credit Counseling, for instance, can help you find one in your area) or speak to a financial counselor at your bank about how to manage your debt and achieve other financial goals like buying your first home or having children.
Parenthood: Who will stay at home with our new baby, for how long, and how will we find affordable child care?
Starting to save for college the day your little one comes home from the hospital is an admirable goal, but the real task at hand is often figuring out how you’ll divvy up the new household duties that come with having a new baby.
Among the big questions: Who will stay at home? How will you manage on a single paycheck for a few months if you extend your maternity or paternity leave? Ideally, you have already set aside some money for the new addition to your family.
“You no longer get to think of your relationship as a ‘I Got You, Babe’ duet. It’s now ‘We’ve Got You, Baby’ and you need to figure out how to save for this little being,” says Hughes.
This is a crucial time in a relationship when you’re usually more focused on the baby than each other. Pick a night every other week (perhaps, pay day) when you sit down and go over finances, bills, and talk money matters. Make a pact.
“No ‘money talk’ any other time or anywhere else," says Hughes.Your child will already be an intrusive presence in the romance department. Don’t let money be the other.”
A Decade after “I Do”: How much do we need to save for the long term and how do we protect what we have?
Saving for your retirement and your kids’ college education at the same time can be daunting, but it’s doable. You need to set goals and also priorities.
Your kid may get a scholarship, but there’s no financial aid for retirement. So long-term savings for you and your spouse has to come first. Besides savings, you also need to think about protecting your financial future.
Hughes suggests starting the conversation with: “We’re going to be alive and kicking for years, but let’s make sure we’re prepared for surprises.”
It’s time to discuss the “what ifs.” Draft a will. Make sure you have guardians for your kids. Buy life insurance.