MassMutual's Keia Cole: How to keep money problems from ruining your happy marriage

The fall months are peak wedding season, and there is one major thing beyond the dress, flowers and ceremony that newlyweds should be thinking about – finances.

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With the average cost of weddings coming in around $34,000, according to the Knot, not to mention credit card debt at approximately $5,700, according to the Federal Reserve, newlyweds just embarking on marital bliss should also say "I do" to ensuring their financial house is in order.

Finances are an integral part of a relationship as about half of married Americans say money factored into their decision to advance a relationship, so it is important that couples are open and honest about their finances, debt and goals.

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How can newlyweds achieve financial bliss along with marital bliss -- and not let money problems wreck their marriage? Here is advice.

Pay off the wedding. 

A recent study by MassMutual found that more than one in 10 married Americans went into debt to pay for their wedding, and while the majority have no regrets about what they spent on their wedding, it is important to start your new life on the right financial foot. In your first few months of marriage, prioritize paying off any outstanding debt from your wedding or replenishing your savings.

Speak early and compromise. 

More than half (55 percent) of married Americans waited until they were married to first discuss finances with their significant other. This is too late.

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It’s important that couples understand their partner’s financial habits and goals early on to ensure they’re aligned and to avoid challenges -- or arguments -- further down the road. And, it’s always important to be open to compromise.

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If you are a “spender,” recognize that may be an adjustment for your “saver” partner. In this case, perhaps consider increasing your monthly savings or sacrificing one splurge each month so that you’re meeting halfway.

Communication is key.

While it’s never a good idea to keep secrets, you’re not alone if you do. The same study by MassMutual found that nearly 1 in 4 married Americans admit to keeping a financial secret from their significant other, including having a separate credit card (38 percent), giving money to a loved one (32 percent) and hiding a major expense (24 percent).

To avoid keeping secrets, set a solo spending “cap” for both partners. This will help keep you both within limits that make the most sense for you as a couple. And don’t hide or forget to pay bills. One of the worst things you can do to your credit score is paying your bills late.

Stick to your budget. 

Only a quarter of married Americans say they never argue about money. How can we make this even less?

According to another MassMutual study, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is prompting one in five Americans to overspend as they see others buying new things or posting online about exciting experiences.

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But FOMO can be risky as it can cause us to spend more than we can afford, often putting people in debt or using hard-earned savings on frivolous things. Work with your partner to develop a budget and spending guidelines to keep you both on track -- and to ensure FOMO doesn’t get the best of you.

Be supportive.

No matter what you and your partner decide when it comes to finances, carefully consider the decisions you make and the impact those decisions will have on your future.

At the end of the day, two out of three people say that if their partner had debt, they would help them financially (even though 1 in 10 admit it would drive them crazy).

Keia Cole is a newlywed and head of digital experience with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).