Getting married can generate high levels of financial stress.
You’re worrying about paying for a ceremony, making sure your families are happy with what they are or aren’t contributing financially, looking for a new place to live and one hundred other things. These complicated financial decisions, on top of everything else on your mind, can be daunting and stressful, and even negatively impact other areas of your life.
If this sounds like you, you are definitely not alone.
How Financial Stress Negatively Impacts Everyday Life
It’s very normal to be overwhelmed — emotionally and financially — in the weeks and months leading up to your wedding. Andrew, a 29-year-old Storyteller getting married later this year, reports he’s incredibly excited for his big day. But he says he also feels stressed and drained as he and his fiancée are dealing with some of the associated financial aspects.
“It’s incredibly stressful to watch my fiancée and I spend such a large sum of money on a single day,” Andrew says. “We’re at a stage of life where we need to have a solid cash reserve, which makes it hard to not feel this money could be better spent building our financial foundation. I feel very conflicted between the significance of the day and my desire to be responsible. It’s required a lot of trust and faith that we’ll continue to earn the salaries we currently do and that we’ll be able to rebuild our savings in the months after the wedding.
I feel very conflicted between the significance of the day and my desire to be responsible.
“In fact, we had to be honest with ourselves when looking for a place to live … Although we earn enough to live in certain areas and have a certain amount of space, we focused on finding a place that would allow us to save at a high rate and wouldn’t create added stress. The whole process feels very surreal and heavy, it’s not the carefree experience I thought it would be.”
Andrew says that in addition to the bills and price tags related to the wedding and finding a new place to live, he’s concerned with how he’ll manage money moving forward.
“On a personal level, I’ve always managed my money loosely but done a good job of not letting it get out of control in terms of debt,” he says. “That being said, coming into marriage I feel a sense of responsibility to know my expenses and spending habits backward and forward in order to keep up my end of the partnership. I just want to make sure I’m evolving my financial mindset in line with how my life is evolving relationally. That’s led to some stress about saving, spending, tracking and really managing more tightly what I earn.
… Coming into marriage I feel a sense of responsibility to know my expenses and spending habits … in order to keep up my end of the partnership.
“The pressure is coming from everywhere,” Andrew says. … My job is not as stable as I’d like since I work at a startup, and we’re raising money at the moment. … Having that added weight makes the decisions around the finances of our wedding very stressful, which can take a lot of the joy out what should be something both my fiancée and I are really reveling in.
“We also happen to be moving, which is expensive and requires a lot of new furniture … It all just feels very heavy and at the same time, I could not be much happier. I am lucky enough to be marrying the love of my life, I have a fantastic job and really like our new place. It’s just this crazy battle between these blessings and what feels like a thunderstorm in the distance that may or may not ever get here.”
Why Getting Married Causes So Much Stress
Changes in your personal finances, living arrangements and family unit are difficult to manage no matter where you are in your life, but those getting married can be especially affected by the financial pressures and changes during this period of transition, especially where considerations past the big day are concerned.
Payoff’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Galen Buckwalter explains why getting married is such a financially stressful time for many of us. “In terms of expectations, people assume that at this moment in their lives, they’ll be taking care of everything,” he says.
“In the past, there were many different kinds of support to get a household together, maybe even financial support. These days, when you get married, you’re taking care of all the needs of your new family unit without a lot of external help. There may be now two people sharing expenses if both people are able to earn, but in thinking about starting a family there’s just no societal support for having kids.
These days, when you get married, you’re taking care of all the needs of your new family unit without a lot of external help.
“People really are often doing it without their families,” Buckwalter continues. “More and more, we see the benefits to children from extending bonding with both parents after birth — for years — but the financial pressures for couples require making some very hard choices around the amount of time you’re going to be able to have with your kid. Adding to this professional and career goals, with economic uncertainty at a time when the expectation to work 24 hours a day in order to get ahead is ever present.”
Want to Reduce Your Financial Stress?
If this sounds familiar to you, then you know all about the mental and financial stress getting married can cause. Why sit back and let it overwhelm you? We want to help you manage and overcome that stress, so Dr. Buckwalter and his team helped develop Joy to measure financial stress and provide innovative, science-based ways to manage it.
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