By Kevin Janiec CFP®, MBA
Last week, my sister said, “Yes to her dress.” It’s an exciting time for my family. It’s an expensive time for my sister and her fiancé. And it’s a critical time for my sister and future brother-in-law as well as all the brides and grooms that I see all over my social media feed to have a clear and cohesive financial plan as they approach their big day and the rest of their lives together.
There are a few reasons why I’m interrupting the fairy tale excitement of the wedding and dress shopping to encourage you to say “Yes” to something just as important…a financial plan:
- Weddings are expensive
When envisioning your wedding whether it includes the venue, the food, drinks, decorations, bridal shower, photography/videography, attire, hotel, transportation, rehearsal dinners, after parties, and everything in between, it can be anywhere from $20,000-$100,000+. For the event (and all of those decisions leading up to it), it’s important to set your budget, determine your funding sources, and define your top spending priorities. Without these elements outlined and agreed upon, the price tag can run away from you when deciding on upgrades from forks to flowers. Weddings often come before a couple’s peak earning years, and they often come around the time of other big expenses like new homes and new children.
Having a financial plan can help you set a realistic budget and hold you accountable to prioritizing your decisions to stay within the boundaries. It’s important to note that accountability does not involve judgment. Whether you choose to spend $15k or $150k, that’s up to you. But having a plan helps you determine what money is available to spend and what tradeoffs come with the decision to spend that amount, so there’s little stress or regret that come with the big day.
- Marriage changes things
Shortly after many couples say, “I do,” they often face many changes to the operational component and overall pieces to their financial picture. It’s a time when individuals merge individual accounts to joint accounts and when they change their beneficiary designations. It’s also a time when each spouse vows to assume the assets, liabilities, goals, and habits of their beloved spouse. With the new shared piggy bank, mutual needs, and debt obligations, it’s a time when couples need to consider life insurance and legal documents for their basic estate plan.
A financial plan can help organize your accounts, adjust cash flow strategies, reprioritize goals, and appropriately protect your assets to start the marriage off on the right foundation. Although you just vowed to stay happily married “for richer or poorer,” it might be helpful to avoid the latter if you can.
- Money cohesion leads to happier marriages
Most importantly, the success of the marriage is often largely impacted by your financial security and cohesion as a couple. This doesn’t mean happiness is correlated with riches, but it does mean the strength is significantly driven by the alignment of your life goals and values. Marital happiness often requires committing to shared priorities and boundaries without the need for petty micromanagement. It involves each spouse’s transparency about their financial situation, aspirations, biases, values, vision for the future, and risk tolerance. It helps to have both spouses mutually involved in the purpose and conceptual direction of the plan even if each spouse owns unique responsibilities within the execution of that plan.
A financial plan helps maximize the cohesion around money and priorities, which can alleviate stress and maximize happiness and purpose throughout the course of your marriage. It sets aside time to discuss the vision, concerns, and opportunities, and chart the course. It establishes an agreement on where dollars are generally going and how they will be invested to balance your lives today and your lives in the future. Because growing old together is all well and good as long as you prepare to create some financial independence for that old couple you hope to be one day.
At the 25+ weddings I’ve been to in the past 5 years (including my own), my moves on the dance floor are often more welcomed than my financial advice at cocktail hour. So I do apologize for interjecting critical financial “to dos” as you prepare to “I do.” Whether you like it or not, champagne towers, signature drinks, designer dresses cost money, and you’re about to enter one of the most significant financial transitions of your life, so it’s important to prepare for it all.
You said yes to getting married, you said yes to the dress, and you’ll say “I do” at the altar. It may be time to say “Yes” to a financial plan as well. We’re here to help you with that
Investment Advice offered through FC Advisory LLC, a registered investment adviser doing business as “New Wealth Project” and as “Financial Coach”. This content is provided for informational purposes only. Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FC Advisory, LLC. Information provided is not and should not be interpreted as investment, tax, legal, or other professional advice or recommendation by FC Advisory, LLC or the members of our firm. Always consult the appropriate professional regarding your specific situation before implementing any options presented or inferred. FC Advisory LLC, All rights reserved.