For richer or poorer … what do those words mean?

Do they represent financial security or marital destruction for newlywed couples?

For some, they are words of fear, doubt and insecurity; for others, they are signs of relief.

Hoping to increase stable financial relationships between married couples, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas Inc. is offering financial tips for newlyweds and those looking to create or renew their financial vows.

Most people expect to be financially stable after exchanging vows, but a double income can quickly disappear with double the expenses. Marriage can mean the beginning of families, the acquisition of possessions and - more importantly - the complexity of merging two individual’s finances as well as their attitudes about spending and saving.

“We at CCCS Dallas hope to get these beneficial tips into the hands of newlyweds and those who are engaged and help them get into a strong conversation surrounding money,” said Gail Cunningham, vice president of business relations.

“We believe that starting a financially stable foundation is the one gift you can give each other,” she said. “Coming into a marriage, we all bring financial baggage including attitudes toward saving, attitudes toward helping family members, attitudes toward spending and attitudes toward investing. All of which involves different risk policies.”

CCCS Dallas is attempting to eliminate questions of “what if?” or “how will I?” by offering these tips to couples interested in properly managing and budgeting their finances.

“Regardless how long you’ve been married … if you find that financial instability within your family, it would be a good time to sit and discuss it,” Cunningham said, noting these discussions are not always easy to approach.

“Sometimes it could be a very difficult subject to discuss because one partner may place the blame on the other that will eventually cause financial infidelity, which can result in hiding your spending from one another,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 2.2 million Americans get married each year and 36 percent of marriages occur in June, July and August.

Cunningham stresses the importance of couples taking heed to financial support and advice to eradicate long-term financial instability before it begins.

“I think it’s a wonderful and very positive first step toward a lifestyle of financial stability,” Cunningham said. “To me, it says that people care enough about their relationship to realize that money is going to effect their marriage one way or another, either negatively or positively.”

Financial tips organized to help newlywed couples include creating a budget, establishing spending limits, getting credit reports, organizing financial clutter, thinking about the children, caring for the family and getting help before financial stress adversely affects the marriage.

“Creating a budget is a must and also the first step toward your financial future because you know in advance where you stand and that’s a good thing,” Cunningham said. “You have to understand that your money is not controlling you, you are controlling your money. Budget is not a four-letter word, it’s just a spending plan and as far as establishing spending limits, that will come naturally after creating your budget.

“Getting your credit report is also a must because you need to know what’s been said about you in the financial world and your credit report is a reflection of that,” she said, noting this also helps monitor for identity theft.

“When it comes to organizing financial clutter, have one place you can go to and know you can put your hands on all of your financial documents,” she said. “When children are involved, always consider the cost of raising a child and caring for your family. This is another topic that should be discussed up front. Just know in advance, your attitude toward this and the parameters you would place around these topics.

“Lastly, don’t dig too deep a financial hole,” she said. “Always try to stay on top of things and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses because you have no idea of how in debt they are.”

CCCS Dallas is a nonprofit, community-based credit and debt management service. Established in 1974, CCCS Dallas and its affiliate offices provide financial education and counseling to consumers in-person, by phone or Internet through its 24 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.

CCCS Dallas is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling network.

Cunningham, who’s been with CCCS Dallas for 21 years, said she and the staff visit on a daily basis with people who have financial questions.

“W counsel a lot of people each month concerning their finances,” she said. “We’ll certainly counsel one partner individually, but the counseling is more effective if both parties attend the session.”

CCCS Dallas has a local office at 820 Ferris Ave. in Waxahachie.

For more information, call (972) 938-9672 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@waxahachiedailylight.com