Have This Important Discussion Before Saying "I Do"
When you go on a first date, you ask yourself a lot of questions. Do you look okay? Does your breath smell? Could this be the start of something new and wonderful? No one says, “I hope my date’s credit score is at least 700.”
But once the big question is popped, it’s time to start having serious conversations about you and your partner’s finances. Here are the top questions to ask before taking the plunge.
What role does money play in your life?
Before you grab the calculator and start digging into total incomes and debts, have a conversation with your partner about the role that money plays in both of your lives. Discuss your past successes and setbacks, and how important money is (or isn’t). Knowing where your partner stands with their viewpoint on money is a good jumping off point.
Will you and your partner combine accounts?
If you have separate bank accounts, you will need to decide whether or not to combine them. Some couples find it easier to combine accounts and make one person in charge of the day-to-day finances, making sure bills get paid and that you both are sticking to your budget. Other couples decide to open an account together to pay any shared bills, but they still keep their separate accounts. Then there are those who decide to keep everything separate.
There is no right or wrong way of handling your accounts once you are married. Talk to your partner to see what will be the best fit.
What do you owe?
Talking finances is not always easy, especially if you have some scary debts lurking in your closet. Make a list of the types of debt you have, the balances, what your average monthly payments have been and the interest you are paying.
At the same time, you should also let your partner know about how much you have in savings, retirement accounts and investments. Being honest with your partner and openly discussing your savings and debt is the key to figuring out where you both financially stand as a couple.
What are your long-term financial goals?
Starting a family, going on dream vacations and retiring early are all goals that many of us have, but they also require some financial planning. Going on that pricey honeymoon sounds like fun, but will it interfere with your goal of reaching a down payment for a home? Prioritize your financial goals and create a game plan to reach them.
When discussing finances with your partner, be honest and really listen. Your goals might not be the same. Your partner may have a student loan you didn’t know about. The way you pay down debt might not be the same. Having financial disagreements and differences should be expected. Keep in mind to not be judgmental and to work through your differences to find a middle ground.