Big Money Questions Before Marriage
No matter how well you and your significant other jibed while dating, marriage brings new things to think about—and money is one of them. Ironing out any potential sources of friction makes for a happier couple. Get the conversation rolling and ask these questions before marriage:
What do you earn?
No one should be in the dark about his or her partner’s income, even if, at first, bringing it up feels awkward. Income level affects everything from day-to-day lifestyle to your future tax bracket.
What’s your credit history?
If your spouse doesn't have a great credit score or has a lot of debt, you may not qualify for a good interest rate on your mortgage. Though it can be tough to talk about, financial secrets cause many more problems than less-than-perfect credit.
How much debt are you carrying?
Debt affects everything from monthly bills to long-term savings. Be respectful with each other when discussing student loans, credit cards, or loans from family. If the financial inventory uncovers debts or other financial challenges, figure out how to tackle the issues together. While you aren’t responsible for the debt your future spouse incurred before your marriage, you will
share responsibility for any shared debt incurred after you are married. Discuss how you will handle that debt.
What are your spending and saving priorities?
Find out if your spending and saving priorities are similar. Talk about how you’ll handle major purchases such as appliances and vacations, as well as regular expenses such as groceries and utilities. Discuss what amount of money is OK for one person to spend without consulting the other. Talk about your values around saving money.
Who will handle our budget and bills?
Talk about how the two of you are going to divide household finances. Talk about whether you’ll have individual or joint accounts—or both.
What are your future plans?
How would you feel if your future spouse planned to stop working to pursue an expensive graduate degree or volunteer opportunity? It’s important to also discuss whether both of you will continue to work if you have children.
Having these discussions may feel a little awkward but being clear and open with each other about your finances before the wedding will help you avoid big surprises (or arguments) later in your married life.