You found that person you know you want to marry, and your partner is on the same page. So why haven't you set a date yet? Chances are, it boils down to money. In fact, 52% of couples have postponed their nuptials due to financial concerns, according to data from Student Loan Hero, and while waiting on marriage may not be ideal in your mind, it's a good idea to iron out those money-related kinks before tying the knot. Here are a few financial moves to start with.
1. Pay off some debt
You might think that having a $200 credit card payment and another $300 student loan payment is par for the course. But if your soon-to-spouse comes in with similar debts, you may come to find that a large chunk of your income is eaten up by those outstanding obligations, thereby cramping your lifestyle and putting an additional strain on your budget. Therefore, it pays to eliminate as much debt as you can before joining forces -- and finances -- with your partner.
Doing so won't just give you more financial flexibility early on; it'll also help you improve your credit, which could play a role in the lifestyle choices you and your partner make together. For example, if high levels of debt are dragging down your credit score, you may have trouble renting an apartment in your ideal neighborhood or getting approved for a mortgage to buy a home. So take a look at your existing obligations, figure out which debts are costing you the most (probably your credit cards), and cut some expenses to free up cash to pay them off. You might also consider taking on a temporary side gig to drum up extra money to achieve the same goal.
2. Build emergency savings
There's no easier way to start your marriage off on a stressful note than to encounter an unplanned bill and have no shot at paying it. A better idea? Come into that marriage with a reasonable level of emergency savings. Ideally, you and your partner should each have enough money in the bank to cover three months' worth of living expenses or more. If you can't reach that threshold individually, get as close as you can, but then pledge to make building an emergency fund your joint priority once your marriage is official.
3. Figure out how you'll pay for your wedding
Last year, the average U.S. wedding cost a whopping $33,391, and while you certainly don't need to spend that much to tie the knot, you'll probably plunk down a notable chunk of cash for the big day. Therefore, it pays to sit down with your partner in advance and determine how much you can afford to spend on your wedding, and where the money will come from. Maybe one of you has a savings account to tap, or a set of parents who have funds set aside for this purpose. The key is to get a handle on that major expense so that it doesn't detract from other financial goals you're aiming to meet simultaneously.
4. Get on the same page about how you'll spend your money
Money is a major source of marital strife, so much so that it's a leading cause of divorce. Before you get married, have a series of lengthy discussions with your partner about your financial habits and goals. Maybe you're hoping to buy a home early on and start building a retirement nest egg, while your soon-to-be spouse would rather spend your money traveling and indulging in nights out on the town. The ultimate answer might be that both of you have to compromise, but the key is to have those conversations ahead of time so that you know what you're getting into.
Money can be a major source of stress early on in a marriage, so it's best to address some of the major financial concerns you have in advance of tying the knot. Will that mean postponing your wedding? Possibly, yes. But if that's what it takes to start off on the right foot, it's worth the wait.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.