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10 Reasons Not to Get Married While You’re In Debt

10 Reasons Not to Get Married While You’re In Debt

Love. Pure, unabashed, crazy love. It makes people want to do courageous and life-altering things.

Like get married.

For many, there is nothing better than having a best friend and life partner. Unfortunately, for at least half the world’s married population, marriage won’t last forever. The issues leading to divorce are varied and complex.

I can tell you one thing, in my experience as a Phoenix divorce attorney, by far, the top reason leading to divorce is stress over money.

If you want to get married and stay married, talk with your significant other about money before you walk down the aisle. If you or your partner is saddled with a mountain of debt, consider NOT getting married just yet. Here’s why:

1. The best way to start a marriage is “fresh.”

No, we don’t live in a perfect world. Yes, there is some debt that is “good” debt (maybe like student loan debt), and yes, there is some debt that might not be paid off until you are on your deathbed (like student loan debt). Before getting married, talk with your partner about the debt that you each have, whether that debt is “good” or “bad” and whether you should put a wedding on hold until you pay all, some or most of it off.

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Entering into a marriage with a boatload of already existing “bad” debt is overwhelming. Instead of focusing on your financial future together, your energy will be spent figuring out how to manage money messes created in “another life.”

2. You want to have resources available when emergency strikes.

Have you ever been in a situation where just as you were getting ahead financially, your car died and you had to pay for expensive repairs? Yep. Thought so. We’ve all been there.

Already having a mountain of debt could affect your ability to get an emergency loan for that car or roof repair. In other words, if you are forced to pay your mechanic for an engine overhaul instead of paying the Best Buy credit card bill, you can bet your bottom dollar one thing will happen:

Stress and tension in the marriage will go through the roof when the bill collectors start a ringin’.

3. Being in debt could be a sign of a deeper, emotional issue.

Just like alcoholism, spending can be an addiction. A spending “problem” doesn’t mean a person isn’t “good.” It could, however, mean a person is satisfying an emotional need by heading to the casino with credit cards in hand every weekend. As with any other addiction, the one with the “problem” has to acknowledge the “problem” to begin the recovery process. The failure to admit a problem while single-handedly causing the financial destruction of your relationship or your partner’s credit will certainly doom the marriage.

4. The excessive debt of one party could be a sign that you don’t share the same values.

When you are feeling that crazy high you get from being in love, you might overlook something big: similar values over spending and money.

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You and your partner are different people. You can learn from each other. However, before tying the knot, have a frank discussion over your respective spending philosophies, how you will spend as a couple, and what your financial goals are for the relationship.

Doing this before getting married will either get you more into alignment on finances…or not. Either way, you will be walking into a marriage with open eyes over the spending values of your partner. That will put you one step ahead of many couples.

5. A large amount of debt can be an obstacle when trying to buy a house, car, or major shared purchase.

People get married to build a life together. Most individuals believe that with a partner, they can build something bigger and greater than they could alone. Imagine the shock and disappointment that will happen when one person learns they (the couple) can’t qualify for a home loan because of the high debt-to-income ratio of one spouse.

When you and your partner are talking about your mutual financial future, consider whether debt already exists and whether being in debt could affect the realization of your shared financial dreams.

6. In many places in the United States, a partner is “on the hook” for the spending of the spouse whether the partner knew about the spending or not.

Regardless of whether the spending is caused by a lack of shared financial values or an addiction, debt could plague both parties during the marriage and after the marriage is over. Depending on the laws of your state, if your partner made it a habit to max out credit cards for designer handbags or trips to the spa, in the event of divorce, you could be on the hook for paying some of that debt back…even if you had no idea it was happening!

The fact that you or your partner has racked up significant debt when you are dating could be a clue that a problem exists and needs to be addressed.

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7. If your spouse has children from another relationship, back child support debt could lead to the examination of YOUR finances.

A person might be the best parent on the planet. That same person could have a gigantic judgment against him or her for child support arrearages. Depending on your jurisdiction, the failure to pay child support without a good reason could lead to serious penalties (which could include incarceration).

In evaluating the reasons for the failure to pay child support, a court will want to examine a person’s whole financial picture. This picture could include the standard of living as evidenced by joint bank account statements and joint tax returns. This will likely make one spouse feel exposed, violated and stressed out, things which are not good for the overall health of the relationship.

8. If you and your spouse plan to start a family, prepare for large chunks of money to begin leaving your bank account immediately.

Before a woman gives birth, she can bet her bottom dollar that her OB/GYN will want a guarantee of payment (or payment in full) for the delivery before it happens. Even if you have insurance and are responsible for a small portion of the whole cost of the birth, your out-of-pocket expense could still be thousands of dollars. In the months and weeks after the birth, expect to receive bills from other medical providers for blood tests, hearing tests, and various unexpected types of tests.

This is just the beginning!

Before getting married and having kids, deal with payment of that Visa bill so you can devote all your resources to the birth and care of your children. When the kids come, that is what you’ll want. That is what they’ll deserve.

9. Borrowing money to pay debt down during marriage could negatively affect important relationships.

In cases when disaster does strike during marriage and people aren’t able to make ends meet because of unpaid debt, they turn to family and friends. If a family member or friend is not able to help by giving a loan, this could cause tension in the relationship, especially if either side harbors resentment over the loan request or the failure to lend.

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If the friend or family member does lend the money, bad feelings happen when the money isn’t paid back in the time period promised (or at all). What inevitably results from a broken promise to pay will be a damaged relationship with one or some of the most important people in your lives.

This could lead to isolation, depression and general unhappiness, all of which will affect your relationship with your partner.

10. If you are planning a special wedding ceremony, prepare to accumulate more debt.

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is over $25,000. Some people are lucky enough to have parents who will foot the entire bill. Other couples pay for their weddings themselves.

If you and your partner are “on your own,” no matter how small you keep it, things will get pricey. The wedding industry is profitable for those in it and much to your surprise, you could be charged extra for something as simple as the type of chair you want your guests to sit in at the reception. If you plan to have a formal to-do for your once in a lifetime event, reduce the stress by paying down the existing debt first.

If you do decide to say “I do”, do you want your marriage to survive? If so, make a choice to be proactive about your debt and money situation with your soon-to-be spouse. By heading these issues off at the pass, you increase the chances that you and your partner will live a long, happy and financially secure future…together!

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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