Secrets are never good for a relationship, especially when keeping something from the person with whom you’re supposed to share the most trust. Surprising your spouse with a troubled financial past after making the huge commitment of marriage can be a lot to handle.
Make sure to talk about all the big questions with your partner before they become problems later on and even result in fights. Here are money issues you should discuss before you get married, not after.
1. Existing debt
Perhaps the most important of all on this list, disclosing any existing debt and other financial obligations is a must. While your spouse won’t legally be marrying into your debt, your past can have huge implications for your financial future as a married couple. While one spouse may dream of buying the first home, the other partner’s debt might mean paying off significant debt first.
Some points to chat about include:
- Outstanding debt from cars, houses, student loans, or anything else
- Child support that’s due
- Bills that parents cover but won’t after marriage
2. Credit scores
While this might sounds like the ultimate invasion into someone’s finances, looking at credit scores can matter quite a bit for couples who plan to buy a home or finance a car. Perhaps you or your partner aren’t up to date on their credit information, making it a good time to take a look and even start making necessary credit repairs.
Credit scores will matter for applying for loans where you and your spouse will be cosigners. A few points on your credit score can be the difference between getting a great rate on a mortgage or paying more in interest.
3. Bank account preferences
One of the big questions that arises when it comes to managing money as a couple is whether you will opt for separate or joint bank accounts. There’s no wrong or right answer, so it really comes down to the preference of the couple.
The advantage of keeping accounts separate could mean less fights over money. When it comes to personal spending, it can be difficult to always see eye-to-eye on every purchase. With your own funds, you and your partner can give each other some freedom to spend while still making sure to have enough in the bank to cover the bills.
On the other end, combining accounts may simplify money management for some couples. There are no secrets when it comes to money and everything is shared. This could even elevate trust even further, too.
4. Who’s in charge?
Someone needs to handle the finances, and that should be something that’s discussed before a poor management system gets both of you in trouble.
With different tasks to manage like investments, insurance, bills, bank accounts, and credit cards, there’s plenty of work to go around.
But one person doesn’t have to do it all, and setting it up this way might not work out for the best anyway. Sharing responsibility can give each person a better understanding and perspective for your financial status. Plus, if each of you is more skilled or knowledgeable in certain areas, splitting up the tasks may make even more sense.
Even if one person will handle it all, consider having regular meetings to discuss the state of your money so that both of you can really understand where things stand instead of just making assumptions.
5. Desired wealth
Couples need to consider if wealth is an important desire on either side or if other things come first. If one person is career-focused and money-driven while the other is more focused on family, potential clashes with balancing career and home life can happen down the line.
Talk a bit about your long-term goals for money and discuss how priorities of earning money will be balanced with other aspects of life that are important to each of you.
6. Spending styles
It’s possible that you’re a big spender while your partner is actually a saver. But if you’re worried about this, experts say to you might not not be in such bad shape.
According to U.S. News, these two styles may actually complement each other very well. Turn the challenge of opposite spending styles into a good thing, and help each other move towards a reasonable middle ground between spender and saver.
7. Spending priorities
Another talk includes checking to see how each partner looks at expensive milestones and other decisions that require planning and cash. Some of these include:
- Buying a house
- Having children
- Buying cars
- Retirement accounts