The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 17, 2014

The Color of Money: Financial tips for when cupid calls

Of the 13 million couples who expect to become engaged this year, half did so on Valentine's Day, according to a spending and saving survey by American Express.

     The midwinter romantic holiday and the upcoming high season for weddings prompted one mother to ask me to offer some advice to her two daughters who recently got engaged.

     She wrote: "My husband and I are heading into retirement and, like everyone, we wonder if we have planned to maintain a lifestyle we envision. We have saved money for our two daughters' (ages 25 and 30) weddings. They are both college graduates and in good jobs. As we head into the wedding-planning whirlwind, we hope they both have chosen wisely and have long and happy marriages. Nonetheless, staying married seems to be a challenge in today's world. What is the best advice you would give young married couples on combining finances?"

     Even before you get to the logistics of how to handle money together, you need to talk some things out. As I've learned while counseling couples about their financial struggles, having good jobs and pay does not mean they will be good money managers.

     Just like in other areas, money opposites often attract. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. But if couples don't address their financial differences and come up with a plan to deal with the disagreements that can arise from those differences, they will have trouble in their marriage. A recent retirement survey by Fidelity Investments found that of the couples who argue about money, 38 percent said they never resolve their financial quarrels.

     Most arguments aren't about the lack of money. It's the unresolved issues that couples brought into their marriages. It's the unspoken expectations. Or expectations expressed but disregarded.

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