Congratulations, you’re tying the knot! You likely have many things to get in order during this exciting time before the big day. Along with finalizing the guest list and honeymoon plans, you may also want to think about all the areas of your individual lives that will merge as you begin your new life together. One of these facets is your finances. The sooner you and your partner have honest conversations about money, the easier it can be to ensure you’re on the same page and make the transition into married life smooth. Here are eight questions to guide the conversation and help you talk more openly about your finances.
Your financial beliefs and relationship with money influence how you manage your finances and play an essential role in your overall financial health. You often develop your money values in childhood by seeing how your family approached saving, spending, and general money management. You and your soon-to-be spouse may have different opinions regarding money, and discussing your financial styles before getting married is important. Sharing your expectations and goals can allow you to find some common ground and align your financial mindsets in a way that works for everyone.
If you and your partner haven’t discussed spending habits, now is an excellent time to look closer. Start the conversation by being honest and respecting your spouse’s perspective. You may decide to combine bank accounts or keep them separate. Either way, you need to be on board with your budget, how income is spent, and what expenses are considered essential and non-essential. Creating an open dialogue about how money should be spent as a couple can go a long way toward building and sustaining a healthy relationship.
Before getting married, you likely had financial goals you wanted to accomplish. Maybe you wanted to pay off student loans, purchase a house, or build an emergency fund. You will want to discuss each other’s money goals and how you can achieve them together. Start with each of you making a list of your own goals, then sit down to compare your notes. Determine which are still relevant and most important to focus on as a couple. Update any timelines if needed, and remember to revisit this list regularly as life changes.
To build a marriage on a solid financial foundation, it’s important to be honest and share what you owe on your credit cards, school loans, and other accounts before you combine your finances. You’ll also want to discuss credit history and debt levels. Bad credit or heavy debt can adversely affect your purchasing power as a couple, so make a game plan for eliminating debt and determine ways you can support each other to reach a more solid financial standing.
As you start your life together, you or your spouse may have some insecurity or anxieties about spending habits, combining finances, or other money concerns that can affect your financial life as a couple. Create a safe space without judgment for sharing your worries, whether it’s a fear of living paycheck to paycheck or not having enough savings for retirement. Ask your partner what would help to alleviate those concerns and how you can work together to ensure both of you feel financially secure about your future.
If you haven’t determined if you’ll combine accounts once you’re married, now is the time to decide. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s what works best for your financial situation and personal preferences. If you keep accounts separate, you will still want to determine how you divide bills, pay taxes, work toward financial goals, and pay off debt. If you decide to merge finances, it’s often easier to create a shared budget and track how much money is spent each month. Whichever option you choose, be strategic and find an approach that helps make your money work for you.
Before you walk down the aisle together, you’ll want to determine your long-term goals and how you envision your future. Do you wish to purchase a home? Start a family? Retire early? Maybe you want to protect each other’s financial futures with life insurance. Talk to your partner about their key goals and how they align with yours. Setting shared goals can bring you closer together and be an exciting accomplishment when you finish.
Creating a budget can be important for anyone, especially for a married couple sharing expenses. This tool allows you to organize your income and expenses, map out goals, and identify ways to save and spend responsibly. To create your household budget, subtract your total costs and savings goals from your monthly income. If the balance is in the red, you may want to cut back on your spending or determine ways to generate additional income. Budgeting apps can help you organize your joint finances and allow you to monitor your accounts in real-time.
As you work through some of the questions above, you may notice that some are easier to answer than others. This can be a great time to seek the assistance of a financial professional. As a resource for financial knowledge, they can help steer the conversation and ensure you cover all the topics you need to explore. Especially if talking about finances isn’t easy for you, having a neutral party ask questions and help find common ground can be hugely beneficial. By creating a financial plan and budget together, you can weigh money decisions, minimize financial stress, and maintain a team mindset about your finances. Entering this next chapter as a married couple brings many new opportunities to build a solid financial future. Take time before tying the knot to discuss your money values and goals to help ensure you both feel financially empowered in your new life together.