Financial Finesse: Before marriage is the best time for couples to get their money lives in order

CTW Features

Planning a wedding can be an expensive endeavor, and with a life of future mortgages and future college tuition for your kids and your future retirement ahead of you, the sooner you get on solid financial footing, the better. That starts with solid communication about finances.

But according to a recent Country Financial survey, only 51 percent of couples addressed how they would manage their collective finances before marriage. That aside, 86 percent of all married Americans reported being honest with their spouses about their financial state during their engagement.

Here, more findings from the Country survey:

Money Management

When deciding on a money-management style, 71 percent of couples elect to manage their finances from a completely joint account; 21 percent take a partially joint approach. Eight percent of couples keep their money completely separate. Only a quarter (26 percent) of couples said the transition from solo to joint management was difficult.

Timely Matters

Couples married prior to the recession are more united in their financial matters and find joint money management less challenging than those married during the recession.

• 73 percent of couples married before December 2007 have completely joint finances, compared to just 56 percent of those married after.

• Couples married prior to the recession found it significantly less difficult to transition to handling finances together than those married during or after (24 percent vs. 38 percent).

• Despite the difficulty transitioning, two-thirds (66 percent) of couples married during or after the recession discussed how they would manage their money before marriage, 27 percent higher than those married before the downturn.

Tough Times

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of couples said the recession put a strain on their marriage. That number increased to 35 percent for couples who did not work with a financial planner and lowered to 24 percent for those who did.

Young couples also felt the brunt of the recession harder than other demographics. According to the survey, 43 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they felt a strain from the recession, five points higher than any other age group.

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