So you’re getting married. You have the church, a dress and a caterer. You know everything there is to know about your partner and you are in love. But do you know their credit score or how much they owe on student loans? This person you are about to marry may have a squeaky clean financial record or could be hiding a deep dark secret like bankruptcy or a fistful of maxed out credit cards.
Once you are married, your individual finances will also be united. Have you discussed what this really means for your relationship? Every couple handles money matters differently so you need to consider how you will do it. It’s a good idea to have “The Talk” before you tie the knot but it’s never too late.
Rest assured, this will be the least romantic conversation of your relationship and that’s ok. Throughout your relationship you will find life is better when you have open communication about money. Here are some things to think about to get you started:
Combine or remain separate?
First consider how you will keep your money. The options are to have a joint account, individual accounts or some combination of the two. Most financial experts advise at least having a joint household account. If you are keeping separate accounts, discuss who will pay each bill or how much you each will contribute to a joint account.
Agree on money tools
Will you use checks or only a debit card? Will you both have access to your online banking? Who will create the budget and be responsible for paying the bills? Discuss your preferences and reach a mutual agreement. Will you keep the credit cards you have or use just one joint card?
Yours, mine and ours
Dump the “mine and yours” mentality. Ideally, assets (and liabilities) are shared and there is some balance in spending. If one spouse makes a lot and spends lavishly, it will wear on the relationship if the other partner is pinching pennies.
Create goals and a plan
What are your goals? Are you planning to buy a home in five years or have a baby soon? Maybe you want to take a vacation or pay off debt. If nothing else, you need an emergency fund. Put those goals on paper and develop a savings plan.
Something will go wrong. We promise. There will be emergency purchases and your partner will make a bad decision or two. Agree to work together and make it work. Consult each other before major purchases and communicate as much as possible to avoid meltdowns.
Money is a major cause of arguments in most relationships. We wish you the best as you take this important step together and hope our advice will help you create a good financial foundation for your life together!