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Handling money in marriage: financial planner and couple weigh in

Posted at 12:17 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-02 13:41:53-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's one of the biggest sources of conflict in marriage - money.

It's also one of the top five reasons people get divorced.

So if you're thinking about tying the knot or have already there are some vital tips out there to help you avoid a split.

After speaking with a local financial planner and people that have been divorced there's clearly a problem: a lot of people simply aren't talking about money before they get married. By the time they do, sometimes, it's too late.

Linda Leitz, a certified financial planner with Peace of Mind Financial Planning, said, "When a lot of people get married their mind is not on money. Their mind is on each other."

However, the honeymoon phase doesn't last forever and when it's over major conflicts concerning money can arise.

Leitz said, '"It can look like one person saying "You spend too much. We're not going to have enough money. We need to save for the future..." The other one's saying "What is all this money for if we're not enjoying it?"'

Leitz has worked with many clients who are dealing with similar issues or with people like David and Sandy Ascarelli who didn't learn about how to handle money in marriage until later in life. Both of them have been divorced.

Sandy Ascarelli said, "I was married for 34 years."

David Ascarelli said, "This was my third marriage. I was married the first time for eight years, the second time for 33 years."

The two have been married for five years and first met at a workshop on divorce recovery.

David said, "We never learned a lot of these lessons. We never learned about how do couple's make decisions about money."

Sandy said, "I was a constant worrier in my former marriage. My husband was a gypsy and loved to travel."

David said, "I was a spender. We were two doctors, no kids. We can do whatever we want."

Years later they've both learned a lot about making financial decisions in a marriage.

David said, "My philosophy is we're married. Everything's ours and if we're making major decisions no one person is king or queen. We're a team. We put the team first."

Sandy said, "I just think it's really important to talk about it. Issues can come up. Money can be a very emotional subject for people so it's not anything to avoid."

David said, "So much pain could be avoided if people thought about the kind of problems they run into."

That's exactly what Leitz wants couples to do.

"Let's talk through what each of you think about everything from the daily budget, to when do you want to retire, to how is money spent in the meantime, to what kind of lifestyle do you want?"

How you approach this conversation is just as key. Leitz said a good way to communicate is through phrases like these: "It looks like this is important to you or this concerns you. This concerns me. This other issue concerns me. Can we talk about that because I want to honor what you want, but I also want you to hear what's important to me."

Her recommendation is to talk about these things even when you're dating someone which is exactly what Financial Advisor Garrett Huerter started doing six months into his relationship.

"Huerter said, "We talk about where we want to be financially...three, five, ten years from now and what does it actually take to get there? We regularly have budgeting discussions at the end of the month. We sit down and we look through what's been spent."

They're simple yet vital things to a partnership.

David said, "I just was determined that this time we were going to get it right and I just didn't want to have an average marriage. I wanted to have a great marriage."

Having this mindset and applying these tools may just be the safety net for saving a relationship and preventing another divorce from happening.

Leitz said another big way to avoid financial turmoil is to steer clear of debt or only have productive debt such as a mortgage, car or student loans. Also - simply spend less than you make. If you need help consider seeking out a financial advisor.