There is not much like the excitement of an upcoming wedding. Most little girls have dreamed about this day since they were five. The flowers, food, cake, family and friends, the beautiful wedding gown, oh, and of course, the boy! However, it can be easy to forget about those things that do not directly relate to the wedding, but that should be done before the marriage – I’m referring to THE TALKS!
No one is looking to marry the wrong person and then find out a few years down the line that they aren’t compatible, yet when we look at the divorce rate in the United States, that is precisely what is happening. Much of this could be avoided with some simple conversations to make sure the two of you are walking into this life on the same page. You don’t even have to think the same way, as long as you understand what the other believes, discuss and find a way to work together.
So, what are these talks you should be having before you walk down the aisle? This article from Marriage 365 lists 30 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married and looks like a perfect place to start. It covers everything from kids, your love language, and emotional needs. All of these are important, but I would like to focus on one that is always front and center – money!
We may not like it, but money does make the world go round. We have to have it to buy food, shelter, transportation, clothes, etc. We must manage our money well, especially when it comes to joining two separate lives together. It’s essential to understand how each person operates financially and why. Let’s take a look at seven conversations to start your financial talk before you walk down that aisle.
What type of person are you – a Spender or a Saver?
You don’t have to be the same type of person to get along. You do need to understand which one you are and work together on a compromise on how the money will be spent and saved. If you are opposites here, this could lead to significant tension very early in the marriage if not figured out together.
Your premarital situation – each person’s income, assets, and liabilities.
You must understand what each person is coming into the marriage with, especially liabilities. In this day and age, two young adults could potentially be looking at $100,000+ in student loan debt between them. That is crazy and something you should know so you know how to tackle it. Whether it is student loan debt, credit cards, auto loans, etc., it’s time for a game plan!
Do you want a prenuptial agreement?
It is often a tabu subject, but one that should be discussed, especially if one or both is entering the marriage with assets. Often times, you may have one in the couple that works for a family business, and the family wants some assurance that the company is protected. It’s a conversation to have, no matter how you feel about it.
How will you handle your money once you are married – joint accounts, separate, or some version in between?
There are basically three ways you can do this – join all money together, keep it all separate or find some way in between those two. The last is becoming more familiar with many couples living together before they tie the knot. There is no right or wrong answer, just what works best for the two of you.
Who will be responsible for paying the bills?
While you both should be involved in the big financial decisions, it’s best if one takes on the responsibility of paying the monthly bills. It’s not that two can’t do it, you need to be very specific on who is to pay what bills so there is no confusion.
What are your credit scores?
We all know that credit is vital in today’s world, whether you use it or not. It can affect the amount you pay for specific items, such as insurance premiums. It’s also important to keep an eye on your credit for identity theft prevention. Be sure to take the time annually to pull your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com will allow you to do this once a year, free of charge.
What are your life goals – children, travel, home, etc.?
This can be a bigger conversation, and you may be wondering what it has to do with finances. Well, you have to figure out how to pay for all of those kids, vacations, or the big house on the lake you both want. It’s essential to plan your financial future. Consider talking to a financial advisor about your life goals so that you can figure out how to make them happen.
With a little planning ahead, you can go into your marriage with your eyes wide open and working together toward a future you are both excited about. It doesn’t mean it will always be smooth sailing. It does mean that you have eliminated several arguments that were sure to come if you had bypassed this vital planning. Now it’s time to go enjoy that future you have worked so hard for.