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Millennials, Money, and the Modern Marriage

When I married my husband at age 22, I was considered on the “old” end by the standards of my state. Now, 11 years later, getting married at 22 isn’t out of the ordinary in Utah — and it’s considered somewhat young by many in the rest of the country.

For Millennials, the marriage age is rising. Not only that, but the way Millennials approach money in their marriages is changing as well. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist with more than 20 years of experience, and the host of Doctor On Call at HealthyLife.Net, points out that a lot of the changes are due to more resources, as well as more options for women.

Marriage Isn’t Everything

“Not only are Millennials marrying later,” Jane Greer says, “but they are being more meticulous about balancing career with choice of partner.” This is a trend that applies to members of both sexes. “Women and men are putting off marriage until they have more financial security,” she continues. “They put it off until they finish the academic program, or complete the project.”

There is a growing emphasis on security, and making sure each partner has the option to pursue a desired career. “Marriage is not trumping everything,” Greer says. “Women are coming into the world of marriage out of law, teaching, advertising, and other fields where the work is gratifying. Even when they do come to marriage, they are mindful of when to start families. There are more options for women now — more options to feel their oats professionally and spend time making money.”

Not only that, but men are taking a step back as well. “There are reservations about getting married,” Greer points out. “Many of them want to pick the right person. Many men want the financial security in place before marrying.”

For both sexes, though, there is a definite trend toward living together before tying the knot. “Many Millennials see the divorce rate, and the way their parents have been affected, and they are taking their time, living together more frequently and for longer, and keeping finances separate,” Greer says.

Preparing For a Financially Stable Marriage

Millennials have their own challenges as they get ready to marry. Even though they may already have careers and financial resources, there are issues to consider. With men and women earning more before marriage, the question of separate finances comes up.

“It’s important to talk about financial goals,” Greer says. “You need to figure out how to start saving in a joint account for things you mutually want together.” While Greer sees value in having separate accounts, and in having control over your “own” money even when you are in a marriage, she thinks that couples also need to have some shared expenses and responsibilities.

“Whether you contribute to the honeymoon, or save up for a down payment, or do something else, you need to prioritize the ‘we’ and create a shared financial plan,” Greer insists. “You can do this while keeping some finances separate. Agree to what you will contribute to jointly so that you are free ans still have a sense of independence with financial matters.”

This blending of joint effort and individual freedom seems to define the money in the modern Millennial marriage. What do you think? Is Greer correct in her observations? How do you handle money in your marriage?

(Photo: Katsunojiri [3])