Armed with detailed spreadsheets and statements—I recently had the “let’s combine our finances” talk with my new fiancé.
Despite past conversations about our income levels—I earn more—and some other issues, we’d never really bared our financial souls. But we wanted to get our finances in sync before the wedding.
I was sweaty-palms-nervous-I–need-a-glass-of-wine-stat…and I didn’t even have any skeletons in my bank statements. Blemishes? Sure. But nothing to hide. But combining finances isn't just about your mistakes or regrets, it's about trying to become fiscally compatible.
My own parents fought constantly about money, and eventually divorced. I wanted to be on the same team as my husband-to-be, even if (just for now) I'm supplying more on the cash front.
Guess what? There were some surprises, a little negotiating, and ultimately a plan.
He was taken aback by my $20,000 in student loans, just as I was shocked by his $20,000 in credit-card debt (mostly from an over-budget home reno).
While $40,000 is no bouquet of roses, we agreed that paying back as much debt as we could before the wedding was our top priority. At the same time, we planned to save. Here’s the breakdown:
- · Pay off the $20,000 in credit card debt completely at a rate of $2,000 per month. (My student loans are at a much lower interest rate, so we can tackle those later and pay the minimum until then.)
· Boost a savings account currently at $3,000 to $10,000 to cover our contribution to the estimated cost of our wedding, at a rate of $500 per month.
· Prep my home to become a vacation rental, as selling in this market we’d take a hit. It’s not underwater, but as long as we can afford to keep it, we’d rather.
· Put $15,000 aside to remodel the master bedroom/bath of his house—paying cash—after I move in (after The Big Day) at a rate of about $1,100 per month.
That’s a total of about $3,600 a month we'll put toward debt and savings in the coming year. Although we’re not living together yet, we’re combining many of our expenses, so that’s where some of the cash will come from, the rest from smarter spending.
It’s an aggressive plan, and this probably means no Monique Lhuillier wedding gown for me….and that’s just fine. Having a strong, unified start to our new life is worth a lot more to both of us.
photo source: nidhi's shop on etsy