Research by a top British law firm has suggested that a third of divorce inquiries today are related to the credit crunch, and despite a study by the Financial Services Authority revealing that a third of British couples would rather discuss past relationships than their bank balance with their current spouse, conversations about money are something couples simply cannot ignore.
Of course, there are many ingredients needed for a long and happy marriage, but chats about cash are essential- from long before the big day, right through to the big anniversaries. Here are our top must-talk money topics:
- ‘How do you feel talking about money?’
This conversation needs to happen as early as possible in a serious relationship- we’re not talking first date, but once you start thinking about moving in together it has to be done- certainly if you’re talking marriage! If you’re nervous about broaching the subject, do it before 9pm as you’re less likely to be tired and irritable, and speak in a calm tone, using ‘I’ as much as possible, rather than ‘you’- this stops blame being apportioned and will reduce the likelihood of a row breaking out. Your partner may have been brought up in a household where it was considered rude or improper to discuss finances, but money relates to so much in a relationship: sharing, compromising, negotiating and commitment, that it’s an unavoidable conversation.
- ‘What’s your credit rating like?’
Of course, if your special someone has a little debt it’s unlikely to change how you feel about them- but it is something you should be aware of before making any lifelong commitments. As sad as it is, marriages are not always for life these days but debt most certainly can be. If either of you have money issues, work hard to get them straightened out before planning the wedding. Simple steps you can take to repair bad credit include obtaining a copy of your credit record and checking that all details are correct, checking that you are on the electoral roll and making regular purchases (which you are able to pay off) on a credit card. You may find that you are only accepted for a card with a higher than average APR, such as the aqua Card, but if you can use it responsibly it will show future lenders that you are worth lending to.
- ‘What’s your financial style?’
You might be a cautious spender who’d rather save up for big purchases or maybe you’d rather live for the moment; splashing out now and paying back the credit later. The fact of the matter is that this attitude will probably translate to other attitudes of your life; the way you communicate or the way you approach big decisions, and while there are no certainties as to what styles fit together well (we all know that opposites attract but that familiarity also breeds comfort) it pays to be aware of your partner’s approach to money to save yourself a big shock later down the line! It also helps to compromise- so if your spending styles really clash, agree to only use your joint account for bills and food and not for big, impulse buys.
- ‘Can we afford a wedding?’
The answer to this one is undoubtedly a yes- just look at the story of Colette and Lee Clark, who paid a mere £51 for their wedding and reception on eBay, after the venue had a last minute cancellation! Of course, this is a rare occurrence but there are always ways of cutting the cost of your big day without scrimping on style: get in touch with manufacturers directly or visit outlet stores for the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses; provide guests with disposable cameras throughout the day instead of hiring a photographer; feed friends and family with a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. Remember to call in favours from those you know too: does someone have an extra-special car you could arrive in? Is there a wannabe singer or rock star in the family?