You have found a person you trust and who you want to spend the rest of your life with. You might think you know everything you can about the person you plan to marry, but there is one topic every couple should talk about openly and honestly before tying the knot:
Financial problems can cause a good deal of stress on an individual. This is even more true for the married couple. Many marital problems can be traced back to money issues.
Because of this, it’s important to get to know about your partner’s financial past and how he or she thinks about money.
As Mint pointed out, money can be a very emotional topic. A person’s relationship with money is formed throughout life, by watching how parents handle it, what the media says about it and through their own financial mistakes.
No matter how old you are when you get engaged, chances are, you already have some opinions about how money should be handled. Your partner does too, and it’s not likely they are identical.
To get this important conversation started, there are some questions you should ask your future spouse.
“What Are Your Goals?”
According to Bankrate, a good place to start in talking about money is with each other’s aspirations.
“…It’s natural to talk about your life objectives, such as where you want to live or your career aspirations and your common goals for your future,” Paul Nourigat, a senior financial consultant and financial author, explained. “Those objectives have financial ramifications that can lead you into a natural discussion about money.”
Knowing what your partner wants to accomplish in life will give you clues about how he or she might want to spend money in the future. Establishing what your and your partner’s goals are, and which of them overlap, will tell you how much you will need to save and budget.
“How Will We Pay Our Bills?”
Each month, the bills have to get paid.
This means it has to be someone’s responsibility to organize them. Some couples agree on one person to do this, such as the person who has more time to dedicate to it. Or, the one who is less likely to forget which bills are due and when will take charge.
Other couples split it up; one person is in charge of the mortgage, while the other is responsible for utilities.
“Are You Paying Off Your Debt?”
The majority of Americans are paying off some form of debt, whether it be student loans, credit card bills or a mortgage.
When you choose to marry someone, it is important to be honest about any debt you are paying off. Holding back from full disclosure can cause some issues early on in your marriage, Young Money explained.
“Be financially naked,” Richard Vodra, first vice president at Spire Investment Management, suggested. “You may have debt that you don’t want the other person to know about because you’re scared, but it’s always better to fess up.”
Talk about any loans you are paying off and what the time-frame is on them. If you have a history of debt, make sure you are honest about it. Once you get married, your partner’s credit score will affect your ability to get a loan.
Because of this, it’s crucial that both people are forthcoming with any problems they are working out now, or have had in the past.
“How Will We Work Out Our Financial Differences?”
In your conversations about money, you and your partner might find that you hold completely different views.
This is OK.
The important thing is not that you agree on everything, but that you have a way to work things out when you disagree.
Setting joint short and long-term goals is a good way to be on the same page when it comes to finances.
Once you have your goals, agree on a budgeting plan to accomplish them. Be sure to revisit this plan periodically to make sure it still makes sense, and that you are on track to accomplish your objectives.
It’s also important to decide how you will handle banking. Will you share all your accounts? Or will you have a joint account, which each person pays a percent of their paycheck into, and maintain individual accounts as well?
There are merits to all arrangements, but it all depends on which you and your partner decide fits you best.
Once you decide whether you’ll maintain individual accounts or merge all of your finances, you’ll have to determine how to handle money questions you might not agree on. For instance, if one person wants to splurge on something personal, will the other have to agree to it first? Or will individual purchases only come from your personal accounts?
Deciding how to handle money questions is important to establish in a marriage. Talking about these early on can help to avoid problems later.