Planning your wedding is an exciting time. You are officially merging your life with your partner’s, for better or worse. Getting hitched also means you’ll soon be merging your finances. To get on the same page with your partner about money, here are eight financial questions you should ask each other before you tie the knot.
It’s important to be honest with your partner to build trust. Ask each other what you owe on your credit cards, school loans, and other accounts before you combine your finances. Be transparent by sharing your credit history. Once you’re married, you may decide to share joint bank accounts, credit cards, a mortgage, car loans, and more. Heavy debt and bad credit can adversely affect your purchasing power as a couple. Work together to eliminate bad debt and get your credit in good standing.
Do you share the same money values as your partner? Hopefully, you and your fiancé hold many of the same values when it comes to family or politics, but your opinions and thoughts regarding money may be different. A lot of that has to do with the way you were each raised and how money was treated by your parents growing up. Talk to your partner about what they were taught about money, what they think about it now, and what they value most when they spend it. If your money values don’t line up you’ll need to find some common ground financially.
Chances are good that you and your partner will spend money differently. Unfortunately, many couples don’t dedicate a lot of time to discussing their spending habits. Start a discussion on spending by being honest and respecting your spouse’s perspective. Opening a dialogue about the way you should spend money as a couple will go a long way toward building and sustaining a healthy relationship.
The choice to share or not share accounts is, of course, up to you and your spouse. There is no right or wrong answer to the question. But it is important to talk about it and decide which way to go before you get married. Some married couples decide to combine everything, and some choose to maintain separate bank accounts. If you do decide to merge finances, it’s important to agree on what constitutes joint expenses and how much discretionary money you will each have to spend each month.
Spend some time with your partner to organize your income and expenses, and create a budget. To create your budget together, subtract your total expenses from your total income each month. If the balance is in the red, you’ll need to cut back on your spending or generate additional income. Try organizing your joint finances on a budgeting app like Mint.com, which will give you both access to all your accounts in real-time and help you to stay on top of your money every month.
You and your partner may have different financial goals, so it’s important to talk about them and to find out what goals matters most to you as a couple and how you can achieve them together. Start by making lists of your goals separately before the discussion. Agreeing about what goals you want to accomplish as a couple should be your mission. When you’ve established unified goals, it’s a good idea to revisit them once in a while. Personal goals can change over time.
Now that you are close to getting married it’s a good idea to discuss what your future goals as a couple will be. Buying a home, saving for retirement, purchasing life insurance, or having a baby are some possibilities. Talk to your partner about what long-term goals you each see for your family going forward. Once you’ve both revealed what you’d like to achieve, talk about what specific steps can be taken to make those goals a reality.
Going into a marriage, you or your spouse may have some insecurity or fears about spending money, losing money, combining money, or something else that can affect your finances as a couple. Ask your partner if they have any concerns about money as you start your life together. As a married couple, you should both feel secure about your finances and how you will handle them together.