Does anyone know the #1 cause of fighting and divorce amongst married couples? Hopefully, the title gave you a clue. Money issues cause more problems in marriages than anything else.
That says a lot when you consider all of the other things married people fight about. Not getting married anytime soon? Then just think about how many relationships have problems involving money. So what seems to be the problem? Well, there are two key ingredients that go into financial strife:
1. Too much debt
2. Different money values
The issue we are going to tackle for this article is too much debt. One of the first things many newlyweds do after they get married is they take an expensive honeymoon. Then they try to buy a new expensive house and fill it with expensive furniture.
A common problem with newlyweds is that they want to pick up where their parent’s left off. They want to start out with all the things that it took their parents 25 years of more to accumulate. Remember, when you first start out, you are starting out. Too many couples borrow so much money for cars, homes, education that they both need their next pay raise just to be able to breathe.
What about the couples who want to have a baby? Many couples would at least like the option for one of them to spend some time at home with newborn. Unfortunately, once you become totally dependent on both incomes, living paycheck-to-paycheck, it is next to impossible to eliminate one of those incomes. What happens if your spouse would get injured or lose their job and go without that second income for 2, 3 or 9 months?
While the first year of marriage is usually difficult financially anyway, newlyweds should begin to look for ways to live off of one income (or as close to it as possible). The second income could be used to pay off debt, save for a home or for starting a family. In other words, you can spend the extra income, but don’t rely on it as a way to pay your regular monthly bills and debt payments.
Remember, with two incomes there is a greater chance that one of you will experience a brief period of unemployment. Plus, it’s always good to allow a little breathing room in your marriage, especially with your finances. Sometimes just knowing you have the option to leave a stressful job or stay home with your baby is enough to help you enjoy life a little more and to keep your marriage strong. Now you can go home and find something else to fight about like socks on the floor or dried toothpaste in the sink.
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Bill Pratt is a former credit card executive turned student-advocate. He is the author of Extra Credit: The 7 Things Every College Student Needs to Know About Credit Debt & Ca$h. Bill speaks at colleges to educate and entertain students about real-life issues in money, leadership and success. His goal is to help students succeed personally and financially so they can improve the lives of those around them.