If you’re one of the many couples preparing to tie the knot this summer or in the near future, be sure to sit down and have a serious conversation about finances before the wedding.
Discuss the following nine financial topics as well as any others you find relevant to your situation so you understand where you stand individually and where you will be as a couple.
Share Bank Statements
A good icebreaker for this potentially awkward conversation is swapping bank statements. Get a black and white picture of how your future spouse will spend money and scrutinize your own spending habits so you aren’t guessing how you’ll handle money in the future.
Talk about how you budget. Some people create and stick to budgets while others are a bit looser with their money. Unless you see someone pencil down every expenditure you might not know how serious they are about financial planning.
Even though you don’t typically discuss your salary, sit down and lay out how much you’re bringing in each month. This is especially important for couples that will be living on a single income. Having a solid idea of how much you’ll make together is essential for all future financial planning.
Speaking of the future, don’t forget to talk about where you expect to be in five, 10 and 20 years. Talk about future career goals, when you wanted to have kids and when you plan on making big financial decisions like buying a house or starting a retirement fund. Negotiate these milestones as a couple so you don’t come across any surprises.
The past is just as important as the future when it comes to finances for newlyweds. Talk about how much debt you have. Whether from credit cards or student loans, honesty is the best policy.
Take advantage of government-mandated free credit checks to get a clearer picture of your fiscal health. This is also a great opportunity to check for mistakes that could negatively affect your score as a couple.
Although you may keep separate accounts, it’ll probably be easier to have some type of joint account. Think about how much you want to put into this account and how you will make sure that all necessary payments are made each month.
Consider your options for separate and joint accounts, especially if you plan on getting married very close to a deployment. Many couples work out a plan so both the service member and the spouse back home have enough to make ends meet in separate accounts.
The most difficult part of the conversation will be talking about life insurance and beneficiaries. Although no one really wants to talk about the worst-case scenario, it is important to make plans concerning life insurance and making your spouse a primary beneficiary.
People with extended and diverse financial histories may decide that consulting a financial advisor before marriage is a good idea. They can help you start planning for your finances as a family.
Whether at home over the kitchen table or at the bank with a financial expert, talking about these topics before you get married is essential for longterm financial security.
Photo courtesy of Boy27Wonder.