So, you’ve found “the one” and are ready to get married, right? No doubt you’ve put some intensive time and effort into the planning. In the flurry of preparation for your nuptials, it’s important to take time to address the not-so-exciting details of marriage, such as handling money as a married couple. Discussing finances before getting married is critical, as studies show that frequent arguing over money often lands couples in counseling or even divorce court. Here are a few things you should have a serious talk about with your future spouse.
Be Honest About Debt
Even if your spouse’s debt existed before you met him or her, it can still affect your credit report, and whatever money goes toward paying down the debt is ultimately coming out of the household income. That’s why it’s so important to discuss existing debts beforehand. If you have college loans, credit cards, or other debt to deal with, adopt a policy of full disclosure with your partner.
Discuss Your History With Money
It’s important to be honest about the money habits you have individually. Are you typically thrifty, or do you tend to be a big spender? Do you panic about bills at the last minute, or do you plan ahead? You can open this conversation by asking what attitudes and habits your partner’s parents had about money. This is usually a good indicator of where their mind is financially.
Keep Debt To a Minimum
Beginning married life is exciting, and you both might be anxious to get the new car, new home, and all of the furnishings that go with a new home. However, it’s best to give your marriage a good financial start by avoiding too much debt. It may not be romantic, but it’s a good idea nonetheless to talk about your financial goals as a couple. This will help you to get an idea of how much debt you can or cannot afford to have.
Keep Discussion Open
Money discussion should continue throughout your marriage, as to avoid it becoming an uncomfortable topic between the two of you. You should also discuss issues such as:
- Who will handle bills and other regular expenses?
- What are our credit scores?
- How will we prepare for our future children?
- How much are we saving for retirement?
- When do we plan for life insurance and wills/trusts?
You also should talk to your spouse-to-be before making big purchases, and be honest about the times you go a little overboard at the mall. As in all areas of marriage, communication is key to avoiding conflict.
Talking about finances ahead of time will help to get the marriage off to a great start. If you still have questions or concerns, talk to a financial counselor, or check out the many financial planning resources available online.
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