You’re getting married! As you prepare to enter a new chapter, you’re likely busy combining all the areas of your individual lives into one. An essential piece of this is your finances. To build a solid financial future, you must begin with open and honest conversations about money and how you will work together to manage your finances. To help get the discussion rolling, here are eight financial questions to ask each other before tying the knot.
Before you get married, you’ll want to decide if you’ll combine your financial accounts or keep them separate. There is no right or wrong choice; it is what works best for your personal and financial preferences as a couple. If you keep accounts separate, you will still want to determine how you divide bills, pay taxes, work toward financial goals, and pay off debt. If you decide to combine finances, you will want to create a shared budget and track how much money is spent each month. Whatever you decide, be strategic and find an approach that helps make your money work for you.
Your money values, or how you think about your finances and money management, play a prominent role in your financial health. You often develop your money values as a child when you see how your family approaches saving, spending, and finances. You and your spouse may have different opinions regarding money, and discussing your financial styles before getting married is important. Sharing your expectations and goals can allow you to find some common ground and align your financial mindsets in a way that works for everyone.
Some people may be hesitant to discuss past credit history, debt levels, or financial difficulties, but to build a strong financial foundation, you must include this topic in your discussion. Share what you own in student loans, credit cards, and other debt with each other, and discuss your current strategy for paying down your balance. Bad credit or heavy debt can adversely affect your purchasing power as a couple, so make a game plan for eliminating debt and determine ways you can support each other to reach a more solid financial standing.
To align your financial lives and get started on the right foot, you’ll want to discuss your spending habits with each other. Create a safe space for honest conversation and respect your spouse’s perspective. Whether you combine or keep bank accounts separate, you’ll want to agree on your budget, how income is spent, and what expenses are considered essential and non-essential. Creating an open dialogue about spending can help avoid financial disagreements and allow you to build and sustain a healthy relationship.
Having financial anxieties before marriage is not uncommon, but you will want to share any money concerns with your partner. You may be worried about combining finances, saving for retirement, spending habits, or taking on debt. As you discuss money fears with each other, you can find ways to work as a team to alleviate those worries and determine the best strategy for increasing your sense of financial security in the future.
Before getting married, you likely had financial goals you were looking to accomplish. Perhaps you wanted to pay off student loans, create an emergency fund, or build savings for retirement. As you start your life together, you’ll want to discuss each other’s money goals and how you can achieve them as a couple. Start by each of you making a list of your own goals, then sit down to compare your notes. Determine which ones are still relevant and are the most important to focus on in the months and years ahead. Update any timelines if needed, and remember to revisit this list regularly as life changes.
Before you walk down the aisle together, you’ll want to determine your long-term goals and how you envision your future. Do you wish to purchase a home? Start a family? Retire early? Maybe you want to protect each other’s financial futures with life insurance. Talk to your partner about their key goals and how they align with yours. Setting shared goals can bring you closer together and can be an exciting accomplishment when you reach the finish line.
Following a budget can be vital to boosting financial success for a married couple sharing expenses. This tool allows you to organize your income and expenses, map out goals, and identify ways to save and spend responsibly. To create your household budget, subtract your total costs and savings objectives from your monthly income. If the balance is in the red, you may want to cut back on your spending or determine ways to generate additional income. Budgeting apps like Mint.com can help you organize your joint finances and allow you to monitor your accounts in real time.
Financial discussions, especially between couples, are not always easy. As you work through some of the questions above, you may wish to seek the assistance of a financial professional to guide you through the conversation. Having a neutral party to ask questions, discuss concerns, and find common ground can help you get on the right path toward achieving your goals. As a resource for financial advice, they can assist you in creating a financial plan that will allow you to make more informed decisions and approach your finances as equal partners.
As you prepare to start a new chapter, take the time to discuss finances with your spouse to ensure a smooth transition. Getting on the same page about spending and saving habits, money values, and financial goals can allow you to feel more financially empowered and help create a solid foundation to further build your life.
Mint.com is an independent third-party company and is not affiliated with North American Company for Life and Health Insurance. The Company does not endorse or promote any one budgeting app; you can consider that which best supports your needs.