Marrying your Money

How to Ensure Engaged Couples Have a Financially Happy Ever After

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DENVER—'Tis the season—wedding season that is! Summer is the ideal time for couples to tie the knot. But before saying "I Do," there are some important things that couples need to know about how to marry their money with their honey’s money.

A recent online survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and conducted by Harris Interactive in May 2011, finds while 86 percent of those who either got married in the past five years or plan to get married in the next 12 months say they plan on talking about money and their financial situations prior to the wedding, many couples do not know how to start the conversation with their partner, nor completely understand how to effectively merge their finances.

"It’s not unusual for two people in a relationship to have very different styles of money management," says Patricia Seaman, senior director with NEFE. "The key is discovering differences early and reconciling them to maintain a positive financial future and a healthy relationship."

Seaman suggests couples talk about how they will divide routine household expenses, decide how they will set aside a little bit of discretionary spending money for each other, and review and understand each other’s credit history and credit score. According to the NEFE survey, 43 percent of respondents say they did not know the credit score of their fiancé before marriage.

And when couples are unsure how to combine finances and do not effectively communicate about money, financial infidelity can occur. Another recent NEFE poll, performed online by Harris Interactive in December 2010, found that three in 10 Americans who have combined their finances with a partner admit to lying to their significant other about their finances.

"Financial infidelity is a common problem," says Seaman. "It can be anything from hiding cash or purchases to keeping a secret bank account. Some of the warning signs could be your partner feels very defensive when it comes to talking about money or someone insists on handling all the bills and the financial transactions alone."

From the newly-engaged and recently married, to those who are entering a second marriage, NEFE provides tips on how to talk with your partner about money, establishing joint goals, and even planning a wedding celebration on a budget. For more, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org.

LifeValues Quiz for Couples

Understanding your financial values and how they differ from those of your partner is one key to success in managing money together as a couple. NEFE’s new LifeValues Quiz helps people identify the values that drive their financial decisions. To learn more and to take the quiz, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org/lifevaluesquiz.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from May 10-12, 2011, among 2,398 adults aged 18+, of whom 340 were married in the past five years or plan to get married in the next 12 months. Data was weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For a full methodology, click here.

The NEFE financial infidelity survey examines overall trust issues within couples who are combining or have combined their finances in a current or past relationship, and describes the types of financial deceptions that are often committed—from hiding money, purchases and bank accounts to lying about the amount of debt owed or money earned. To read more about the survey, click here.

Date: July 1, 2011
Contact:  Paul Golden 303-224-3514pdg@nefe.org
 

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Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Manager

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    pdg@nefe.org

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    pas@nefe.org