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The months before you get married aren't all engagement bliss. You may find you bicker over your wedding plans, or, perhaps more importantly, over money. Why? Because paying for big budget items — like your wedding or saving for your first home — can bring big money considerations out of the woodwork, says Elle Kaplan, finance expert and owner of LexION Capital.
"If a couple has only had financial discussions about the Netflix bill, and suddenly they're faced with the idea of affording kids, it can bring out some significant disagreements," she says. Here are five such financial arguments you might face.
1. The cost of your wedding.
As we know all too well, "wedding prices can easily skyrocket and become a huge argument," says Kaplan. "It's an emotionally heated and important experience, so one partner might be tempted to go into debt to make the day special." But Kaplan warns that could lead to more financial troubles and fights down the road. "I always remind people that a wedding day is just that: a day," she says. "It's not worth having a long-term argument or debt over."
2. Who's paying for date nights out.
It's not all late night wedding planning sessions. Some evenings, you'll sneak out for a romantic snack. And, says Mary Beth Storjohann, financial coach and founder of Workable Wealth, "if one person is always picking up the check, there could be a feeling of resentment from either party. If things are getting tense, circle up for a conversation of whether each party is comfortable paying, and set parameters for expectations going forward."
3. One another's money habits.
The closer you get to marriage, Kaplan says, the more likely you'll view one another's money habits under a magnifying glass. "This can lead to a lot of bickering if they have differing money views, like if one is a saver and the other is a spender," she warns. Rather than bicker, "realize that [you] won't agree on everything moneywise, and focus on compromising on the big-ticket financial choices instead of sweating the small stuff."
4. Your financial goals.
Says Storjohann, "Depending on where you're at in life, you may have different visions for the future. One may see marriage, a home purchase and kids, while the other sees a desire to travel and start a business." While having different visions of the future can lead to fights, they don't have to, says Storjohann. Here, "having honest conversations around goals and expectations will help to ensure you're on the same page or at least in understanding of each other."
5. Your debts.
Debt is never fun to discuss. And chatting about your partner's credit card bills can get downright uncomfortable. "A huge credit card bill can throw a wrench in your relationship plans," says Kaplan. "That being said, it's important for couples to encourage open and honest dialog financially; if a spouse is made to feel shameful about debt, it can be hard for them to open up financially in the future. Couples should work on this as a team, and focus on fixing the underlying habits that caused it. That way, they can nip it in the bud and make sure it doesn't happen again."
But don't let the prospect of these disagreements dissuade you from talking about money before marriage. "A lot of couples think of finance as the final frontier, and for some reason only talk about it when marriage is a sure thing," says Kaplan. "By bringing money up early, couples can start to get a sense of each other's views as the relationship turns serious, and nip any issues or disagreements in the bud."