Finance Guru Suze Orman's Top 5 Wedding and Marriage Money Tips

You can always count on financial advisor Suze Orman to give it to you straight when it comes to wedding finances.
by Ivy Jacobson
Financial advisor Suze Orman

We all know and love financial advisor, author and television host Suze Orman—especially when she yells "DENIED!" at someone on TV who's trying to buy something way out of their budget. And when it comes to planning your wedding, Orman has the same no-nonsense approach, which may be hard for some couples to hear, but extremely valuable for your marriage in the long run. (Especially if you've been wanting that luxurious, three-day, destination wedding in Mexico for as long as you can remember!)

"There's a way to tie the knot so that it never comes unraveled," Orman tells The Knot, who notes that the number one thing couples fight about is money. "You should spend an amount on your wedding that's respectful to not only you and your family members, but to your guests as well. A wedding is what you and your spouse can afford, what your family can afford to give you, and what your friends can afford to attend, where it's wonderful for all involved. What's wrong with changing the norm and creating a situation that makes sense?"

If you see it getting out of hand, she notes, ask yourself whose wedding it really is. Is it your parents' wedding with all of their friends? Your new family's friends? These are things to note in advance, before any vendor contracts are signed. (According to our 2014 Real Weddings Study, 45 percent of couples are going over budget and 12 percent pay for the wedding themselves.)

"If there's one voice of reason, it's me," she says. "You are DENIED by me if you can't realistically afford your wedding. I have an alternative way of thinking about that—the advice that I give is a little different."

Below, Orman's top five tips on making your wedding and marriage financially sound:

Your wedding has to make sense financially.

"Don't spend money you don't have for people you (or your fiance) barely know. Make the day a respectable day for yourselves and your financial situation. Make it a day that lasts forever with the money you have saved. Make a vow to talk to each other, not at each other, about money. Marriage is merging your hearts, your souls and your bank accounts."

Autonomy has got to be maintained.

"You should have three accounts—your account, your spouse's account and a joint account. Why? Because you shouldn't be splitting expenses 50/50 if you don't have the same salary and financial situation.

Let's say that together, you need $3,000 a month to live, and one of you is making $7,000 a month and the other is making $3,000 a month. You can't expect each one of you to contribute $1,500 to your joint account. You should be putting in equal percentages, not equal amounts of money.

Both of your [monthly] salaries combined is $10,000 ($7,000 plus $3,000), and once divided into your joint account, 30 percent of $3,000 is $900 dollars, and 30 percent of $7,000 is $2,100. Add $2,1oo and $900, and there's your $3,000. That's how much you should both contribute.

Those separate accounts leave both of you with other money that you should be able to do what you want with, without having to ask your spouse each time and create resentment."

Never, ever cosign on someone else's student loans.

"That is their responsibility to pay off. Do not feel like you need to be their financial savior. Save yourself first. Some people think, 'Oh my gosh, I'm great with money and my spouse isn't—I'll save them.'

You should both be financial adults and take care of the baggage you brought into the relationship."

Discuss how you want to financially handle family situations.

"Now that you're married, how do you want to spend your money when it comes to family? Is it expected to spend money on travel each holiday? Are you visiting both sets of families? Are you spending money on holiday gifts for everyone? Are you going to visit their family all the time? Or is it a possibility that their family will come and live with you? Or have you been financially helping a family member and are expected to keep it up after marriage?

This happens so much in marriages. You happen to be great with finances and so is your family, but your spouse's family isn't good with money. And your spouse has a family member who asks for a certain amount every month, and they might not tell you until you get married. If your spouse keeps doing that, you'll get upset. If you're the financial savior to your family, and have a new family, your spouse needs to be in agreement with what you have to do and what you don't have to do anymore. Talk to them constantly about money and finances, and be honest. Have those conversations that are hard to have—and compromise."

And if you decide to become parents one day...

"One thing that makes you a great parent is when you teach your children self-respect and self-responsibility for money. What makes you great is putting the financial oxygen mask on your face first—showing it's okay to say no out of love, rather than yes out of fear. It's your emergency fund, your retirement account, your purchases and you taking care of yourselves."

Orman recently launched a new financial planning kit, "The Money Tools," ($54) on HSN and will be appearing on May 21 and 22. This exclusive product includes all the tools you need to plan for your financial future—from paying off student loans to retirement and investments.

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