Money might be one of the most contentious conversation topics in a marriage, but personal finance expert Jean Chatzky, host of “Cash Call,” has got spouses-to-be covered, particularly those who are tying the knot later in life.
Chatzky dedicated Tuesday's episode of her half-hour call-in show to the topic of “Marriage Over 50” and she talked to The Huffington Post about how women in particular can better navigate the financial process of getting married –- and having a wedding –- especially when they’ve already established themselves personally and professionally. After reading our interview, check out a clip the "Cash Call" episode on this topic below, and keep reading to see how you can submit your own questions to Chatzky.
How does the process of getting married change when you’re in your 50s, rather than in your 20s?
The age at which people get married is getting later and later. But beyond that, coming to a marriage over 50 is a different animal. When you get married and you’re over 50 -- and you know, it’s an arbitrary age, we could have said “over 45” or “over 60” -- you come to the party differently. You likely have more in assets. You have a career path that’s established. You may have kids or other prior family obligations. You come as a more fully-formed individual and that makes it different in terms of the challenge of being married and staying married.
Does the process of planning a wedding change as well?
I think that the chances of your parents paying for it later in life when you’re over 50 are slim to none. So, that’s one big difference! I think people over 50 feel a little freer to do whatever they want, whether it’s a second marriage or a first marriage. We showed a number of wedding pictures on our show, including that of one of my producers, who was in a yellow dress and pink shoes. I think you feel less inclined to have to do the wedding that you might have done for other people and more inclined to do the wedding that you want to do for you. And that can be significantly less expensive. Or you can have a total blowout.
Do you think those getting married over 50 should be more conservative with regards to wedding spending?
I am never going to tell people to spend money on anything when they don’t have retirement savings. But if you’ve been responsible, you don’t have a lot of credit card debt and you’ve satisfied your IRA contribution for the year -- and this is what you choose to spend your money on -- then spend your money.
How can women over 50 prepare for marriage financially?
Number one consideration is ‘Do I need a pre-nup?’ In the vast majority of situations, the answer is yes, even when you don’t think it is. You’re coming to a marriage with significant assets, with kids from a prior marriage, with a business. You need a pre-nup because you need to protect that former life. You also need to think about how are you going to mix financial styles [with your spouse]. Once you’re that far along in your life, you’ve got a style, it’s set. Can you change? Can you mold? Can you compromise? Sure. But, you need to acknowledge ‘This is who I am’ and be very open and honest about what you bring to the table.
How can couples go about combining their financial styles?
Just like in any marriage, you need to look at what your life is going to cost. What are you bringing in? Where is the money going? What are your big goals? You need to come up with a plan. That’s the same as it would be in any relationship, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s. So, it’s the same process, but just because you’re older doesn’t meant that you don’t have to go through the steps. You already know about [how to finance your life] but you don’t know how to do it together. Doing it together is a new thing.
What’s the biggest mistake women make when getting married over 50?
I think it really depends on the woman. On the show, we heard from a woman who had been independent for so long that it’s been hard for her to let go of that independence. She doesn’t want to let her spouse pay for as many things as he pays for. It’s scary if you’ve been forced into a position of independence and you’ve established yourself and you’re feeling good about it, to let that go. It can be hard to compromise. And I don’t think it’s just women -- it’s women and men. When you come to marriage in your 20s or your 30s, you haven’t had as many years to convince yourself that you’re so right about the way that you do things. By the time that you’re in your 50s or your 60s, you do things the way you do things and you have this sense that your way is the best way. You may find it harder to meet in the middle. But that’s what marriage is: Marriage is meeting in the middle. And if you want your marriage to work, you better figure out how to do that. And in a way that you’re not constantly fighting about money because we know that the more times couples fight per week about money, the more likely they are to divorce.
What are the advantages to marrying later in life?
I think that the biggest advantages are career-wise. [Getting married when you’re older] gives you more time to work on you. By the same token, I think that most people I know don’t make a conscious decision ‘Oh, I’m not going to get married until I’m 50.’ They get married when they find the right person to marry.
Viewers can submit questions to "Cash Call with Jean Chatzky" via RLTV’s Facebook page and Twitter (@RLTVLive) feed, Jean Chatzky’s Facebook page and Twitter feed (@JeanChatzky), Skype (Cash.Call) or phone at: 1-855-550-RLTV (7588).
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