Romance versus Finance

Managing finances as single folks isn’t easy: How much money should I have in an emergency fund, what should I save for retirement, can I afford college for my child/children? After saying I Do and adding another person to the equation, the process seems even more daunting. Here to help us figure it out is Marsha Horton Barnes, a seasoned Charlotte, NC-based certified financial education instructor. I discovered Marsha via Instagram. Her approach to financial education isn’t preachy plus she’s a dedicated wife and mother who understands certain things in life money just can’t buy. Check out her exclusive Q&A with Triple B covering the importance of sharing credit reports before jumping the broom, why involving in-laws into money matters should be avoided, why creating a will is necessary and more! – How important is it for engaged couples to exchange credit reports?
Marsha Horton Barnes – Discussing credit may not be the most romantic topic for a newly engaged couple, but it should be on the “To Do” list before the “I Do’s.” Credit reports display current/past financial good or bad habits. Understanding your honey’s credit report will help you to better understand what you are marrying into “financially.” Discuss your debts as a team and determine how you will handle them. Being candid with credit reports allows engaged couples to tackle any unnecessary debt which could ultimately place them in a better financial standing for future goals.

BBB – Most engaged couples want the most bang for their bridal buck — whether their wedding budget is $1,500 or $150,000. How should they prioritize?
Marsha – My hope is that whether you are newly engaged, newly married, or a seasoned couple — you place your focus on lifelong priorities as opposed to the wedding day. Prioritize your budget by what’s most important to the financial success of your lives together. Determine how to pay down debt, analyze how much income it takes to keep your household running like a machine, be honest about the lifestyle you would like to live as a couple (i.e. vacations, owning a home, etc.).

Marsha Horton Barnes - Founder of Financial Empowerment

BBB – Share your top three tips for nearlyweds and newlyweds on best practices for household budgeting.
Marsha – 1) Place money on the agenda and make discussing it a priority. 2) Examine debt and ongoing purchases, be careful with purchasing big ticket items as a newly married couple. Remain cognizant of your total monthly income and your monthly expenses. 3) Set aside an emergency fund very quickly. How awesome and wise would it be to squirrel away 50% of your monetary wedding gifts away into a rescue fund?

BBB – What is your opinion on couples involving in-laws in money matters?
Marsha – This is an easy one. Don’t do it. Vows are shared and unions are created by two individuals. Be willing to keep it that way. However—there’s always a however right? — as you consider wills and estate planning, include your immediate family members that you entrust to handle your affairs in the case that you or your spouse are unable to do so.

BBB – Add any additional helpful financial information for newly married or engaged couples that you didn’t touch on above.
Marsha – Commit and communicate. Get organized together, set goals together, undo debt together, and protect what matters most. Approach and attack your fiancé’s or spouse’s past financial mistakes as a team and without judgment. If possible, live on one salary and save the other. Enjoy love and living.

Get more great tips on money management from Marsha here!

What was your biggest takeaway from Marsha’s above advice?