Financial Discussions to Have Before Marriage

Image of happily married couple

Getting married can be one of the happiest times in someone's life. Marriage, however, can also bring on a slew of problems if you don't properly discuss finances ahead of time. After you know you're romantically compatible, it's crucial to find out if you're financially compatible. Discussions such as your current debts and your spending habits need to be discussed before you say "I do." With one of the leading causes of divorce being financial issues, we think it's important to work out all the kinks ahead of time.

Financial topics to discuss before you get married

Current debts and your credit scores

Whether you have student loan debt, credit card debt, or a low credit score that's hiding in the background of your relationship it's time to fess up. There should be no financial surprises for you and your spouse the day after the wedding. We don't just say this to warn against dishonesty in your marriage. A secret low credit score or large debt could prevent the two of you from purchasing a home in the future. If you or your spouse has a poor credit history, we suggest talking with your potential lender or realtor to see what your options are before you tie the knot.

The best way to approach the subject of credit scores and debts is to set a time for the both of you to sit down together with no distractions. Consider requesting each of your credit reports so that you both have a visual when discussing the other's finances. With everything on the table, it's less likely that a financial issue will come up in your marriage later on.

Combined finances or seperate accounts

Whether or not you combine bank accounts has more to do with personal preference than anything else. There are pros and cons to both sides of this scenario, but there's only one thing that matters you BOTH need to agree on what to do with your finances. "His and Hers" money can cause a lot of rifts between couples when one person feels as though the other is in control of the majority of the money, and vice versa. A spouse making a larger income who wishes to keep money separate may be seen as greedy and controlling; while a spouse making less and wishing to combine funds, may be seen as taking advantage. Two spouses, however, that wish to combine accounts or keep them separate, will see each other as an equal team member and are not as likely to argue over who has how much money in their individual account.

Spending habits

Each person's spending personality is different. There are people, however, who at least see eye-to-eye on the logic of certain purchases versus others. For example, a person that spends a lot of money on their hobbies or entertainment may not be the best financial match for someone that keeps track of their weekly purchases and follows a strict monthly budget. While it may be possible to work together and develop a new joint spending personality, it's always best to know where your spouse stands when it comes to spending.

Aside from spending, it's equally important to know your partner's financial goals. Are they hoping to purchase a house shortly after you get married? Do they want to go back to school eventually? Are kids in their plan? These are all important questions that lead to big expenses. Find out if your plans align with your spouse's. If they don't, do you support and encourage their goals?

Divide and conquer!

Could you imagine handling the bills, budget, taxes and stocks all on your own? Just like household chores, each spouse needs to do their fair share. However you end up dividing the tasks, it's important to figure out what each of you are comfortable doing before your relationship becomes a marriage their bills will soon be yours and vice versa!

It's never a good idea to allow the bulk of the financial responsibilities to fall to one person. This may cause undue stress and could eventually begin to affect your relationship. A simple way to decide how to allocate tasks is to make a list of all the financial "chores" that will need to be covered in your relationship and openly discuss each other's comfort level with each. If one of you feels most comfortable in the organizing role managing the bills and the budget, perhaps the other wants to be involved with the stocks and taxes. You never know until you discuss it!