Financially Ever After

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Jeff D. Opdyke of the Wall Street Journal

Debt Facts  Conflicts over spending inflict the most damage on a marriage during the first year  Debt - one of the most difficult hurdles  Root of money fights Cardinal Rule of Love and Money: Never join your finances outside of marriage.

Six Questions Every Prospective Marriage Couple Must Ask Each Other

Question 1: Do You Have A Basic Understanding of Money?

 Fastest-growing source of bankruptcy  Evidence of a good understanding of money  Regularly balance checkbook  Live below your means  Carry no credit card balance  Wary of an interest-only mortgage

Overheard from a person who lacks an understanding of money  “I was charged late fees on my credit card.”  “I never have the money to afford the car-insurance premium when it routinely rolls around.”  “I cannot make ends meet.”

Six Questions Every Prospective Marriage Couple Must Ask Each Other  Question 2: What Is Your Money History?

 Question 5: What Are Your Financial Assets and Liabilities?

 Question 6: How Do You Use Debt?

 How much debt do you each have?

 What type of debt?

 Question 7: Will We Operate From One Checkbook…. Or Three?

Six Questions Every Prospective Marriage Couple Must Ask Each Other Question 8: How Should We Divide Financial Duties?

 Two Strategies to Consider:  Gatekeeper  Tag Team

Budgeting  Budgeting boils down to X, Y, and Z.

 Earn X dollars each month  Spend Y dollars in fixed costs  Have Z dollars remaining  Emergency Savings Account  “Budget Busters”

 Tracking Your Spending Cash in the envelope  Monthly spending scorecard  Allowances

Formulating a Debt Philosophy “We agree together to purposefully live below our means, not to pursue material wants without the money to afford them, never to use emergency savings for consumer purchases, and to take on debt only when it benefits the family’s long-term goals or needs.”

Preventing Living Beyond Your Means Determine these questions as a couple:  What expenses are worthy of credit?

 How will you repay the charges?

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