You Better Talk About Money Before You Say 'I Do'

4798 While many engaged couples are able to hash out which photographer to use at the ceremony and who to sit Aunt Edna next to at the reception, they can't seem to broach the topic of their finances -- a discussion that could make or break their marriage.
Money is the leading source of disagreement for couples, whether they're just hitched or have been married for decades, and in extreme cases, tensions about household finances can even lead to divorce.

To prevent that from happening, couples need to have a serious discussion about their finances long before they say "I do."

Everything should be put on the table, from current income and debts to attitudes towards money and how to approach financial goals like buying a house or saving for retirement, says Gail Cunningham, a longtime financial counselor and spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. With many newlyweds entering marriage with piles of student loan or credit card debt, such financial honesty is especially important.

"Like it or not, we carry with us financial baggage, and that baggage is not always negative, but it's there," Cunningham said. "Even positive differences can lead to disagreement."

Yet while many newlyweds will pledge to be with each other "for richer" or "poorer," they often dread talking about money matters.

Nearly 70% of adults in a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey said they had negative feelings about discussing money with a fiancé, while more than 20% said the discussion would either lead to a fight, reveal unknown financial issues or even cause them to break off the engagement.

Many people simply haven't learned how to talk about money with others, said Dr. Terri Orbuch, a social psychologist and author of "5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great."

The way people approach money is often heavily influenced by the way they were raised, she said. For instance, someone who had an allowance or opened a savings account at a young age may be more used to sticking to a budget. Someone who was given many gifts as a child may view spending money as a way to express love.

Source: CNN Money | Melanie Hicken @melhicken
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