PreMarital Financial Counseling
As part of our wedding planning, we have been meeting with a minister for premartial counseling. While some folks probably cringe at this -- I have found it very useful and I think both of us have gotten a lot out of it.
A recent session focused on finances. It was very involved -- we had spent the previous several nights going through a Financial Workbook the minister gave to us to take the next couple steps in merging our finances. It was nothing fancy -- but it took us through lists of questions we needed to answer. Here are the discussion points from the 1st page:
- Banking– Do you both have accounts? Do you want to combine checking and/or savings
accounts? Do you use a checkbook and register, or ATM cards?
- Childbearing– How man children do you want to have? How soon? Who will take care of the children? How will you pay for additional expenses?
- Employment– How do you feel about dual-career arrangements? Are you satisfied with your careers? Are you earning enough money? Are you willing to move for your spouse’s advancement?
- Clothing– How important is clothing to you? Are you satisfied with the amount, quality, and prestige value of clothing that you have?
- Food– Is the food you are eating at home the quality you really want? Who should do the cooking and shopping for food? Do you want to eat out more often? Where?
- Debt– How comfortable are you using credit to buy now, thereby committing future earnings? How much debt have you acquired presently and how do you intend to pay for it? How do you feel about borrowing money or taking out loans?
- Housing– How much do you want to spend on home furnishings? Do you really want to buy a home, or is renting acceptable? Where would you like to live? Do you have good enough credit to be accepted for a home loan?
- Contracts– Do you want a prenuptial agreement? Should you establish a will?
- Transportation– Could you cope by using mass transportation and by having just one
automobile? Could one car be an inexpensive vehicle that gets higher mileage? If so, who
would drive it? Do you associate status with the car you drive?
- Recreation– Would you be satisfied spending less (or more) money on recreational activities?
- Vacations– What do you really want to do on vacations? Should you consider separate vacations? Do you prefer one long vacation each year or more frequent long-weekend breaks?
- Future Security– How important are savings? Will your retirement plan actually provide you with a decent (or high) level of living? What would happen financially if you became disabled or died? Do you need life insurance to support your family if you die?
Despite being so basic, this exercise really helped us start the discussion on co-mingling funds, etc. It was just what we needed. We had some heated discussions -- I got hung up on the fact that my fiancee is not willing to buy "used" furniture (even if its really nice) and she got hung up on the issue of her needing to go back to work after she stays home to raise kids.
After the whole exercise I think we were both more comfortable with the idea of combining everything. We still have alot more to work through, but I think we can now both see how it can exist at least initially and be worked on by both of us over time.
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