Getting engaged is such a fun time in a couple’s life. After all, you’ve found the one you love. You’re deep into planning your dream wedding. You’ve registered for all the necessities, the menu is set, and the DJ is booked and ready to give you an epic party during your reception.
You might think you know everything about the person you are about to marry and spend your life with, but do you really?
I’ve been married for over 8 years now, and I still find out new things about my husband. Just the other day, I found out he hates hard boiled eggs. I know, it was a thrilling new revelation.
I always tell new couples, though, that they need to talk about money more intimately before they get married. It’s not a secret that financial strain during a marriage can lead to marriage trouble, so before you tie the knot, sit down with your other half and talk about the ten questions below. I promise you won’t regret it!
1 – First things first, how much debt do you have and where is this debt? This is a big question and an important one. Student loans, car loans, credit card balances or any other debt needs to be out in the open for both of you. It’s good to be aware of debts in case one of you loses your job and one person has to take on all the bills.
2 – What is your credit score? If you decide to apply for an apartment or a loan together, it’s nice to know where you both stand with your credit scores. This can help to avoid any awkward conversations if you were to get declined for a loan because of bad credit.
3 – Would you rather spend money on experiences or a home? This is a great question to see where each other’s priorities are. Some people prefer to have a beautiful home and tangible items whereas others like to invest in traveling and experiences.
4 – Do you owe any family members or friends money? Getting financially involved with family and friends can cause an entirely unexpected set of issues. If you do owe money to friends or family, try to make it a priority to pay them back to avoid any tension and animosity.
5 – Do you use credit cards? If so, do you pay them off every month? Some people use credit cards for all expenses to build up credit or earn points for rewards and pay them off right away. Does your future spouse use credit cards because they don’t have money in the bank? If so, that’s a different story so make sure to get on the same page as each other when it comes to credit card usage.
6 – How do you want to handle paying the bills? Will one person be in charge of handling all the expenses, or will it be a partnership? Who will be in charge of certain bills?
7 – Will you have a joint checking account or keep them separate? For the record, I’m a huge believer in a joint checking account and always have been.
8 – Are you a saver and do you have a saving account? Whatever your degree of savings is, you should discuss having a savings account. It’s important to have an emergency fund tucked away in case you need money for medical expenses, vet bills, car repairs, or home maintenance.
9 – Do you want children? This discussion has probably happened long before you got engaged, but it’s important to talk about the financial costs of having kids. Maybe you want one child and your spouse wants three. During this discussion, think about the costs of daycare versus one parent staying at home, whether you want to send them to private or public school, and if you want to pay for their college educations.
10 – Do you have life insurance? Maybe you both have life insurance through work, but that might not be adequate. You want to make sure your loved ones are protected from a financial disaster if you were to unexpectedly pass away. If you have anyone that depends on you financially, then you should have life insurance. Most financial experts, myself included, recommend term life insurance. The amount should be 10-12x your annual salary.
Because money is one of the biggest reasons for arguments between couples, it’s helpful to sit down and get it all out in the open. It may not be fun, but it will help to avoid many issues ahead of time. You’ll feel good to have that conversation behind you and then you can continue planning the wedding!
Did you discuss these things before marriage?