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When Love, Marriage and Money Come Together

You know the old saying: "First comes love, then comes marriage . . ." Unfortunately, however, many newly-married couples start their new lives strapped with debt. Some bring their own debts with them to the marriage; others start racking up credit card bills as they plan their weddings and honeymoons together.

Young couples often assume that they can't have financial problems because they're pooling their financial resources, including income and debt payments. Wrong!

Just because you're pooling your resources doesn't mean that you can pay for your debts any easier than before. Sure, your income may go up when you get married, but so can your debt. When one spouse takes on the debt obligations of the other, credit problems can ensue. In fact, paying for debts incurred by others, usually family members, is one of the most common reasons cited by individuals seeking credit counselling and debt management assistance.

One couple took the plunge and got married-right into $56,000 worth of debt. The husband had a rocky credit history, yet was determined to pursue his dream of starting his own company. Trying to be supportive, his new wife let him charge to the hilt on credit cards held in her name only. The husband's financial history proved prophetic. His business failed, and unfortunately their marriage did as well. The wife was stuck with the fallout from his shattered hopes-mountains of expensive debt, all in her name.

Overwhelming debt can be devastating, both financially and personally. But there is help available, if only you'll use it. Credit counselling services will help you create a budget and can work with your creditors to consolidate your bills and arrange more affordable payment plans, often with lower interest.

When you're young and in love, it's only natural to want to share everything. But be careful; the ties that bind should be those of mutual love and respect, not mutual debt.

What can you do to avoid added debt if you're getting married? First, look at your existing monthly financial obligations. If you can't add another car payment, or you've worked hard to keep your credit card expenses to the minimum, just say so. Explain to your beloved that it's better for both of you to avoid taking on more debt. In the event of a split down the road, even a divorce decree cannot change the fact that your good credit rating is tied forever to any debt you signed or co-signed for.

As new families come together, each person needs to consider his or her values. Money management is an important part of your value system and will often determine whether or not you will achieve your goals. Consider the following:

  • How important is money in your life?
  • Does money consume all your thoughts?
  • Does someone else make financial decisions for you?
  • Are you concerned about your debts?
  • What effect does money have on your relationships with family members and friends?

In a survey of 49 of Forbes Magazine's richest people, 37 percent reported lower than average happiness levels, according to an ABC-TV special report called "The Mystery of Happiness." It's seems obvious that money does not make people happy, nor does it bring love, power, freedom, self worth, or security. Money is just that: dollars and cents.

So what can you do to ensure that you are both financially secure and happy? Researchers say that it's more important to your emotional well- being to be independent, have a purpose in life, and maintain a good sense of Humour than to focus on money. Research indicates that married people are less likely to die from strokes, accidents, flu, tuberculosis, and various forms of cancer.

Instead, look at how you perceive money. As you begin your life as a married person, this could be the perfect time to change how you look at money.

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