Gary Coleman Secretly Tied the Knot

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Gary Coleman, the former child star, who is not quite five feet tall, is also a not-so newlywed.

The 4’8” “Diff’rent Strokes” actor, who turned 40 last week, and Shannon Price, who is 5’7” and who manages Coleman’s memorabilia sales on eBay (EBAY), married in a secret ceremony on a mountaintop in Nevada’s Valley of Fire August 28, her 22nd birthday. Coleman broke the news of his nuptials to “Inside Edition” (GE) on Tuesday, however. The couple, who met on the set of the 2006 limited-release comedy “Church Ball,” said they kept their wedding a secret because of Coleman’s notoriety. “I just want my own identity,” said Coleman’s wife. “I don’t want to be known as Gary Coleman’s wife.”

The couple has downplayed their differences in age (18 years), and height, (more than a foot when she wears heels). However, financial planners say that the mismatch that creates the most conflicts for newlyweds is differences in money management styles. When it is time to combine your finances, experts agree the best first step is an honest talk with your partner.

“You and your spouse should sit down and have a frank conversation about financial goals and how you want to work towards those goals together,” says Frank Boucher, a CPF  in Virginia. Cary Carbonaro a CFP in New York adds that no details are too small.

“You should know what each other’s net worth is,” she says. “When you are getting married you take on the other person’s debt. So be honest about assets and liabilities.”

When setting up checking accounts financial planners say three is the magic number. “The proper households will have three, each party with their own checking account and then they [deposit money] into the joint one,” says Morris Armstrong, a financial planer in Danbury, Connecticut. The joint account is then used to pay the bills, says Jay Berger, a CFP in Michigan. “The shared bucket should contain enough money to cover all costs shared by a couple, including mortgage payments, groceries and utilities,” says Berger. Next, Carbonaro suggests that one person takes responsibility to make sure the bills are paid on time. “Know each other’s credit scores,” Carbonaro says. “Just go online and look at annualcreditreport.com [to] see who is the better bill payer.”

Creating a budget is also important. “Some people might want to set rules on how much can be spent” without your spouse’s permission, says Armstrong. “Define what a big purchase is for you and your spouse. You might set a limit of $100 or $500, whatever is your comfort level.” And be prepared to compromise. Says Berger: “Combining finances is more of an art than a science.”

Lastly, recognize that this is not the last time you will talk about money with your partner. “This should be a monthly conversation,” says David J. Fernandez, a CFP from Scottsdale, Arizona. “I cannot emphasize enough, this is not a one time discussion.”

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