Personal Finances

Financial Issues That Young Couples Should Discuss before Marriage

You should have "the talk" well before you tie the knot-before you get engaged, even. If you are lucky, you and your partner will have the same views on money. But there’s a strong chance you will not, even if you are otherwise well matched. You may find yourselves getting defensive and feeling entitled to your financial habits while not seeing the merit in your partner’s habits.

Ask yourselves these questions:

What does money mean to you? What is it really for? What do you like to spend money on? What are your priorities with money? What are your long-term and short-term financial goals? Can you delay gratification if need be? How much debt does each of you have? How will you pay recurring expenses such as monthly bills? Should you share them? How will you plan for large expenses? What will you do if one partner can’t meet his or her share of expenses? How much insurance and what types of insurance do you need? Do you want joint bank accounts and/or credit cards? What other assets and investments will you combine, and which will you keep separate? What types of retirement plans should you have? How much will you contribute to them each year? Who will be your beneficiaries for your various accounts? Do you have a will, a trust, or other estate planning tool to protect your wealth? What kind of housing do you want? If you want to own, how will you finance a home? How many children do you want and when do you want to have them? Do you want to create a prenuptial agreement? Would you benefit from the help of a financial advisor?

Discuss your responses to these questions, and be honest. Write them down if you must. They will form the basis for your lifelong money plans. Revise them periodically as needed, and add additional questions if need be.

What do you like to spend money on?
Can you delay gratification if need be?
How will you plan for large expenses?

Review your credit history

Few things can kill the post-honeymoon glow like finding out your spouse has a big stain on his or her credit report. Check both your credit reports prior to the big day, and then check them at least once a year. A bad credit score can ruin your ability to get a mortgage or other important loan. Along with your credit scores, find out well in advance just how much debt each of you has. Make a plan to pay off your debts and set up a savings plan to help you with this. Debts can gnaw away at any relationship until they kill it.

If you are the judgmental type when it comes to money, you should instead be nonjudgmental as you listen to your significant other’s money philosophy. Chances are, he or she is having issues with your approach as well.

Disclosures