How is marriage different for couples who say “I do” before they reach their 30th birthday?
You grow up together, which can be good and bad. “The only thing we ever really talked about before getting married was wanting kids,” says Jamie, a restaurant manager in Ohio who tied the knot at 21. “Being naïve and not really realizing the importance of being on the same page when it comes to finances was a talk I wish we would’ve had. Being married young requires you to grow up together while still learning about ‘being a grown up.’”
Financial differences can be challenging for all couples, but especially for young ones. If you’ve never had a job, or have an entry-level salary, it’s hard to know if you agree on money management. And student loan debt can take a big chunk of your purchasing power as a couple, just as you’re trying to build a life together. But while arguments about money are the number one predictor of divorce, honest discussions about finances early on in a relationship can help prevent unexpected disagreements.
Marrying young may actually be a great opportunity to boost your financial standing together. A married household can mean double the income, pooled resources and responsibilities, plus accountability to each other — which can be beneficial. Building your savings and spending power as a team can help you make smarter decisions earlier in life.
If you need help starting a conversation with your partner about finances, start here. And if you aren’t sure what your financial profile looks like, an online tool like Mint can give you an overview of your spending and saving habits. Be prepared to have these conversations regularly, as home ownership, children, career changes and retirement needs will ultimately affect your financial future.
Making Important Decisions Together
Those who marry earlier in life have the opportunity to plan for the future together. Here are some important questions to discuss:
- Do you both want to have children? If you do have children, is one of you happy to give up work, or will you need to hire help or pay for childcare?
- What are your career goals? Do you both have specific career aspirations?
- What is your savings and debt history, and do you have a plan for paying off debt together? Is one of you a penny pincher and the other not?
- Do you want to buy or rent a home? And where? Of course this may change as time goes on, but for the first few years of marriage, it’s important to have a plan.
- Will you stick with joint or separate money management and insurance plans?
Entering into your commitment with important issues hashed out will ensure you start off on the right foot together. As a young couple, you’ll have the chance to get better and better at these types of conversations, setting you up for success together down the road.