Planning a wedding takes a lot of work–from finding the perfect dress to choosing a venue, the list of things to do can seem never-ending. Couples get so focused on the big day itself that they often don’t have time to think about what happens after they say their vows. You both agree to love one another for richer or poorer but if you haven’t talked about your finances beforehand, you could be starting off on shaky ground. Here are seven important money questions to tackle before you walk down the aisle.
1. How’s Your Credit?
A credit score is more than just a three-digit number; it’s also an indicator of how responsible you are when it comes to handling your finances. If your spouse-to-be has a low score, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lousy with money but it’s definitely something you want to discuss in more detail. You don’t want to wait until you’re trying to make a major purchase together, such as a new car or a home, for their financial skeletons to come to light.
2. Do You Have Any Debt?
Starting off your married life together steeped in debt puts you at a serious disadvantage, both financially and emotionally. When you’re saddled with credit card bills or student loan payments it makes it that much harder to go after your goals, such as funding your retirement. If only one spouse was responsible for racking up the debt, the other may feel start to feel resentful at being limited financially. Being upfront about what you owe before you say ‘I do’ gives you the opportunity to create a plan for attacking it together.
3. What Are We Each Responsible For?
Ideally, both spouses should be equally involved in managing the money but usually what happens is one person ends up being responsible for making sure the bills get paid. While this system may work for some couples, it’s not right for everyone. If you’re both comfortable with just one person taking the reins financially, you should still schedule regular meetings to review your budget, go over the bills and discuss any money questions.
4. How Will We Merge Our Money?
One of the biggest questions married couples tend to struggle with is how to combine their finances after they’ve exchanged vows. For some couples, maintaining individual accounts works best while others prefer to put everything into a single account. Another option is to use a joint account for paying bills and keep separate accounts for discretionary spending and saving. Finding the right system for divvying up your cash may take some trial and error but it makes keeping track of your money easier in the long run.
5. What Are Your Financial Goals?
Talking to your future spouse about their financial goals can give you a tremendous amount of insight into what their priorities are. For some couples, buying a home is at the top of their financial bucket list. For others, it may be starting a business or traveling the world. Knowing what it is you want to achieve as individuals and as a couple improves the odds of getting to where you want to be.
6. How Do Kids Fit in the Financial Picture?
Having children changes the dynamic of a marriage in a number of ways, including the impact it has on your finances. If you’re planning to start a family, you both need to be clear about what it means for your wallet. For instance, will one of you work while the other stays home? If you both plan to work, how does childcare fit into your budget? These are questions the two of you need to find answers to before bringing home your bundle of joy.
7. Do We Need a Prenup?
Prenuptial agreements are often associated with celebrities and the very wealthy but there are situations where it makes sense to have one, even if you’re an Average Joe. For instance, if one partner has a significant amount of debt a prenup can protect the other from creditors. Even if you don’t think you need a prenup, you may still want to talk about what might happen financially if the marriage doesn’t work out.
When you’re preparing to join your life to someone else’s, your finances may be the last thing on your mind but it’s not a topic you can afford to ignore. Talking about the big money questions early and often is one of the keys to living happily ever after.
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