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Financial literacy more important than ever for couples

Despite financial instability, many couples are deciding to combine their resources to nest together.

Combining assets is a societal norm as old as the tradition of marriage itself. But many couples are finding trouble in paradise before they ever reach their honeymoon.

Couples are not only deciding to share space before marriage, but according to a new Credit Karma survey, they are also combining finances.

Credit Karma reported half of millennial couples are consolidating finances, yet more than a third rely on credit cards. Now may be an ideal time for credit unions to prove their financial expertise to this young and in love demographic.

How  unions can facilitate stability
While it's widely known that financial issues are the most common cause for divorce, the "why?" is still being debated. Conflicts over financial secrets, spending habits and not understanding each other's "money memories" all contribute to the poor decisions newlyweds often make around their finances, writes LearnVest.

Expanding products to include avenues for individuals, joint-account holders and same-sex couples to achieve stability has the potential to deepen member-union relationships and encourage repeat business.

"Ensuring your technology provides a good member experience gives you a leg up."

According to Credit Karma, there was only a difference of 2 percentage points between the number of Baby Boomers and millennials who hid purchases from their significant other. Even more interesting, married couples from both generations admitted to being more interested in earning potential and food preferences than their partner's credit score. Including resources that help divulge important financial information may not only foster financial responsibility, it will also keep your institution present in the couple's mind when it's time for large purchases or financing.

Ensuring that your technology can sustain a smooth user experience - account transfers, in-app budgeting, accessing multiple accounts, etc. - will also give you a leg up on competing products and institutions.

Tapping a new market
Sharing expenses without the legal protection or tax benefits of marriage is something many couples are now voluntarily engaging in. But with the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, it would be wise for your credit union to engage with a demographic that has gotten little commercial attention.

While it's important not to single out same-sex couples or make them feel like the black sheep of your member base, inclusion means offering options that cater to a potential couple's needs.

"There are unique situations now that the community is coming out of the closet and into its own and beginning to become mainstream," President of Seattle equal rights group Equality Washington Phillip Endicott told Credit Union Journal. "We're finding ourselves in situations like marriages, adoption [and] gender-reassignment surgery, where offering those unique and supportive loans makes a whole lot of sense."

Making a point to include nontraditional needs in marketing efforts and online strategies will uphold the community-centric, welcome-with-open-arms sentiment that members usually expect when choosing a credit union.