It is a simple fact that discussing money before marriage or cohabitation will help avoid a lot of battles during the marriage or cohabitation.
Communication is the key to any relationship, but there is one topic couples too often avoid: Money.
Writing with a divorce attorney (Gemma Allen) and a divorce judge (Michele Lowrance), personal finance guru Terry Savage authored a step-by-step manual for people to deal with money issues before they become money hassles.
“We all share one belief,’’ Savage said about her co-authors in an interview with Millionaire Corner. “Marriages would last longer and be happier if people didn’t avoid talking about the supposedly unromantic but very important topic: money.”
The timing is perfect for the book, because people are entering long-term relationships today in financial situations different than the way people did 20 years ago.
“This is not your parent’s generation, where they got out of college and got married and made it work or got divorced 30 years later,’’ Savage said. “This is a time when people go to work, and come into their first marriage with jobs and assets or liabilities, or come into a second marriages with responsibilities like child support or support from a previous marriage, or maybe seniors who are now remarrying after their spouses have passed on and their adult kids are saying ‘Dad, we want you to be happy, but if you die, is she going to get everything?’
Stating that the book has “advice for all ages and all stages,’’ Savage said the topic of money requires, and seldom gets, the same sort of planning and attention that weddings get.
“People go into marriages planning their weddings with great detail,’’ she said, “And they give very little thought to planning their marriage and how it will work, especially financially. Things like ‘We each have an income, but it is not the same. Should we contribute the same amount to the household account, should it be a proportional amount, or should we put all of our money together? We have advice on that, systems that become automatic, that avoid fights, give people the dignity of their own work and private money and yet allow you to come together and build a financial life together.”
Fear is the reason the money talk never takes place, and Savage said the book can help the discussion begin.
“We have strategies not just for bringing up the cold hard subject of money but for having a discussions with someone you supposedly love enough to live with, trust enough and respect enough, to discuss your inner feelings about money,” she said.
Savage said money is not the problem; the problem is the relationship people have with money.
“There are two kinds of people, savers and spenders, and for better or for worse they tend to marry each other,’’ Savage said. “You have to start with a very warm, non-judgmental, non-threatening discussion, you have to be willing to open yourself up and be willing to listen to your partner.”
Savage said the unpleasant topic of prenuptial agreements need to be reexamined so that they don’t seen so unpleasant. With the knowledge that 50 percent of marriages (and perhaps more when the relationship is just cohabitation), a prenuptial agreement makes a great deal of sense.
“It’s about two consenting happily adult people getting together but recognizing there is a ‘before’, a ‘during’ and quite possible an ‘after’,’’ Savage said. “Isn’t it better to make those decisions now, when you most love each other and are most inclined to work together, instead of hiring two lawyers to battle it out and give up a big piece of your fortune in legal fees?”
The book includes a checklist of issues to discuss in a prenuptial agreement.
It takes a while to plan a wedding, it is going to take a while to plan a pre-nup,’’ she said.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.