For richer and for poorer

Approach to money can prove divisive among newlyweds


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MONTREAL -- Prince William and bride Kate Middleton won't likely ever have to worry about paying their bills, but the honeymoon can end for many newlyweds when they start talking about money.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/04/2011 (4351 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MONTREAL — Prince William and bride Kate Middleton won’t likely ever have to worry about paying their bills, but the honeymoon can end for many newlyweds when they start talking about money.

Savers and spenders are often united for better or worse and they have to adapt to each other’s attitudes toward money, financial experts say.

Couples who seem to be successful at marriage are usually good with their finances, said certified financial planner Marta Stiteler.

“Once you marry this person, it’s for richer or poorer,” said Stiteler, an associate at Pillar Retirement Group in Hamilton, Ont.

“You had better get working as a team and get your fiscal house in order and that’s the marital house.”

It’s possible a couple may start off with different financial personalities but they grow together through compromise, she said. Honesty is the best policy, she added, especially when it comes to disclosing any debts.

“It has to be ‘It’s our debt and we have to get a handle on it and we need to pay it down,’ ” Stiteler said.

BMO Mortgage specialist Laura Parsons said couples usually start thinking about buying a home and need to keep a level head about what they can afford.

“With all this excitement of being newly married, your emotions can take a first seat and that’s not what you want,” she told a BMO conference to discuss financial strategies for newlyweds.

Parsons suggests couples look into a pre-approved mortgage that will force them to stay within budget and consolidating any debts to get them paid off.

“You do not want to go into home ownership with a lot of debt.”

Couples also have to decide if they want a joint account or separate accounts combined with a joint account for payments, she added. She noted BMO has a tool for couples to track their monthly spending that will also target any overspending.

Even before being married, couples need to decide how much will be spent on their big day. For the young royal couple, money doesn’t appear to be an object for their wedding on Friday.

“It’s safe to say that not everybody will have the decadence and luxury wedding budget that Kate and William will have,” wedding consultant Rebecca Elias said.

“Make sure to have that crucial discussion about where the money is coming from before you get the ball rolling,” said Elias, senior destination wedding consultant of Toronto-based Luxe Destination Weddings.

“All of the little things you add, add up,” Elias said.

Women also need to find a bigger financial voice in the relationship. They’re still taking a “back seat” to husbands on things like negotiating mortgages and investment decisions, said Tina Di Vito, director of retirement strategies with BMO Financial Group.

“When we look at the family situation, single women tend to really take more control of their own finances, more so than those in the couple,” Di Vito said, adding that will change as women become more financially independent.

Couples also need to minimize their taxes as a family, making sure if they’re entitled to any tax credits and using tools like spousal RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts, Di Vito told the conference.

Stiteler said those entering a second marriage will need to figure out what kind of a home they will need and to make sure any adult children from a past marriage and a new spouse are both looked after in the event of death.

Then there’s always the question of having kids and realizing they cost a lot of money these days.

“If you haven’t gotten a handle on that before you get married, it can have a huge financial impact on your life.”

— The Canadian Press

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