SYCAMORE – When Brittani Click first met her fiancé, Matt Holliday, she wouldn't have called herself a responsible saver.
But after frequent financial talks and with a little less than two months left to go before saying “I do,” Click has learned from her future husband's frugal ways.
“He's very responsible in a way that's made me responsible,” said Click, 21.
The best way not to get caught in a financial tangle that can doom a relationship is to talk about finances before and throughout a marriage, local couples and experts say. Although most couples talk about finances monthly and almost all of them consider financial compatibility before tyring the knot, a recent study shows those married after the 2008 recession were even more likely to consider finances before saying “I do.”
Click and Holliday, 24, of Sycamore, started talking about money early on in their 14-month relationship. But it wasn't until six months ago when they really started to get into the details of each other's books.
“We actually talk about finances a lot,” Click said. “But the most stressful thing is paying for the wedding.”
The couple is like a majority of couples married after 2008, according to an Experian Consumer Survey of 1,000 married adults. Of post-recession couples, 82 percent said they talked to their spouse about finances before tying the knot, compared with 65 percent of pre-recession couples.
Click, a financial services officer at Illinois Communtiy Credit Union and Holliday, a parts advisor for auto dealer Brian Bemis, want to stop renting and buy a house. With that goal in mind, they often consult each other before making big purchases, such as equipment for their hunting hobby. And that's where the couple bucks the trend.
Men included in the study said they would spend $1,231 before consulting their spouse, three times the $396 women said they would spend before asking their sweetheart. Click said they have a $100 threshold.
Looking at finances before taking a trip down the aisle comes recommended by lawyer Matt Shaw, who's handled thousands of family law cases.
“I suppose that pre-marital counseling on finances would be a good idea for anyone,” Shaw said. “It's no guarantee that the relationship will work, but good financial awareness and habits make for a better life in either instance.”
Shaw, a founding partner of St. Charles-based Shaw, Jacobs and Associates P.C, sees money as a potential catalyst for divorce in extreme situations, such as one spouse having a lengthy bout of unemployment or a severe gambling problem.
“I think the relationship problems are the cause of the divorce, and the money issues can be a precipitating factor,” Shaw said. “Or, once a party has decided the relationship is untenable, attention turns to finances.”
Love might have brought Earl and Stacy Gable together, but being on the same page with money is the thing that keeps them from falling apart.
“It's not me against her, it's us against it,” said Earl Gable, 46, of Sycamore. “We're on the same team.”
Unlike many 35 percent of couples in the survey married before 2008, money has always been an open topic for the Gables, who were married 14 years ago.
But that's not to say those conversations didn't change after the recession.
Earl was laid off from a job where he earned more than $200,000 a year and turned to medical transciption services. Now, between his income and what Stacy earns as a counter manager for Lancome at the Oak Brook Terrace Mall, the couple brings in about $55,000 a year.
After bills and mortgage, car and student loan payments, the Gables have about $500 left over monthly, which they're eager to save in case of an emergency in their family of six.
“We've had times where it's very close, paycheck to paycheck,” Earl said. “But as long as you're on the same page, it doesn't come between us.”