Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married – Part 1

by financialmom

in Marriage, Money

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I’ve been  in wedding mode recently, as my son Jake got married last weekend (YAY, another daughter in the family!).   I started thinking about all the things we didn’t know before we got married, and just couldn’t resist being the Financial Mom today.

Here are some things I sure wish I had known before I got married:

How to Cook

Now women, don’t go crazy on me before I explain.  I still say cooking is only fun when you actually have time to do it. But we have to face facts – someone needs to know how to cook.  And it should be both of you, and a shared task.   When we got married, we did not know how to cook anything.  And that led to many hilarious shared moments (like the rubbery undone chicken skidding across the kitchen floor).

The reason I say you should know how to cook is because – well, like me, you probably like to eat.  And if you can’t cook, you will do what most people do – you will constantly eat out.  The costs of eating out are one of the biggest budget busters in a family.

Eating out may be easier, and more convenient, but it sure isn’t less expensive. Home cooked meals taste better too (think of reading a recipe as a fascinating science experiment if you need some motivation).   Some of the money you are now spending on eating out could be invested for your future, when you really won’t want to cook!

Speaking of moms and eating, I heard this on the radio recently – a survey of 2nd graders for Mother’s Day: Why did your mom marry your dad? 1) My dad makes really great spaghetti, and my mom really likes to eat; and 2) My mom did not have her thinking cap on (oh come on, it’s funny icon smile Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married – Part 1 ).

Spending the Paychecks

What is it about finally getting a paycheck that makes us want to spend it all?  We finish school, get a job, get married, and for those amazing accomplishments we seem to think we deserve everything new at once.

I see it all the time – we start getting paychecks, and then proceed to purchase a new car, furniture, flat screen, clothing, etc.

When I think of all the money I spent on professional clothing I had to have when I started my first real job, I feel ill even now, thinking about what that money could have been worth today. We just don’t think about anything other than the great feeling of finally having a paycheck, and money to spend.   No one told us it might be important to save some of that money, or if they did, we didn’t listen.

Before you buy something, think about the opportunity cost of what you may be giving up. For example, the thousands of dollars you spent on the new  furniture, invested wisely over time, could have become a down payment on a house, or over a longer period of time, an amazing retirement fund.

Be aware that when you spend money, you are always making a choice – a choice for what you are buying, and a choice against what that money could have purchased in the future. Not to be a total spoilsport – you just need to be aware of what you are doing when you make purchases.  You don’t have to spend money on stuff just because you want it right now!

Diving Into Debt

School Debt - first of all, the size of school debt these days can be like a mortgage.  Just because you may have 10 years to pay off your school debt, doesn’t mean you need to take 10 years to pay it off. I really don’t care what the interest rate is on your school debt – pay it off as fast as you can.  Take my word for it, after living a few years in an apartment, you will probably decide you want to buy a house.

Even if your interest rate on your school debt is low, if your loan payments are a significant portion of your income, it may impair your ability to buy a house.   You may not be able to afford both school loan payments and a mortgage payment. You need to knock out the school debt asap, and if that means you live on one of your incomes, and the other income goes all to the school debt, do it.   Owning a home can wait awhile.  You can thank me later.

Credit Card Debt - you know what I am going to say.  I will say it anyway. The only thing more foolish than spending all of your paychecks is putting those purchases on credit. You know, taking “advantage” of great offers, like zero percent down and twenty-four months to pay, or even worse, putting purchases on a credit card when you can’t pay it off in one month.

The borrower is always a slave to the lender, and you are gambling on your future income when you buy on credit.  Don’t do it.  Life happens, and you are putting yourself in an unnecessary position of risk.  There are always better options.

Constant Compromise

Marriage is a constant compromise.  Here’s what is always a shock to newly married couples - sometimes what is important to you may not be important to your spouse. So you need to learn how to compromise – and this goes for all the areas of your marriage, including the financial aspect.  You may disagree on how your money should be spent.  It could be something as simple as entertainment money – you may want to see a concert, and he wants to go to the football game.

Money fights are the biggest cause of divorce.  You may have very different ways of handling money.  Don’t avoid the money conversations – talk to your spouse, come to an agreement/compromise as to how things will happen now that you are a couple, and then hold each other accountable.  Always remember you are a team, and on the same side!

New Profile Pic 2599R Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married – Part 1Pamela Otten is CEO of Pamela Otten LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. She loves to work with women business owners and entrepreneurs, and women in transition due to job change, death, or divorce. Pamela will help you set and reach your financial goals, educate you to understand your investments, and teach you how to do more charitable giving. Pamela is a Qualified Kingdom Advisor (, trained and committed to integrating biblical principles with her investment advice.

cc smallest Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married – Part 1Photo Credit – flickr

Financial Planning, Investment Advice, and Investment Management provided through Pamela Otten LLC, Registered Investment Advisor.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, please consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

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