Those initial moments upon getting engaged are filled with a wealth of emotions and thoughts. You’re no doubt elated at the prospect of your marriage and impending wedding. And immediately, your head begins to muse over the array of plans you’ll need to make.
From picking out the dress or tuxedo, to the venue, to deciding on a caterer and wedding cake, there’s no shortage of details to plan out before your big day.
While most couples likely, and hopefully, know their partner in and out by now, many couples fail to discuss one of the singular and most important topics of them all: finances.
Just like you should know your partner’s values and background, you should also be aware of their finances, as their habits and financial ideals tend to have a large impact on yours. Before you walk down the aisle, be sure to ask your future spouse these six financial questions.
1. How Much Debt Do You Have?
One of the most important and probably first question you should ask your future husband or wife is what their debt situation looks like. Unfortunately, when you marry someone you also marry their debt.
While most individuals might carry around a student loan or two, not everyone will have high-interest credit card debt. Even though no debt is great, some is slightly better than others and it’s important to know what your partner has and how you’re going to handle it.
Furthermore, you might want to use the opportunity as an opening to discuss what debt you find necessary or ok to rack up in the future, and what you might do as a couple to keep debt at bay.
2. How’s Your Credit Score?
When you’re younger a credit score might not seem like it’ll be a hinderance, or if yours is good, you might think your golden for the milestones ahead. That being said, however, when you get married both of your credit scores will be taken under consideration.
In other words, if you ever hope to take out a loan together or purchase your dream home your spouse’s less than stellar credit score could hold you back. And if one of your scores isn’t on par, take time to strategize ways to better it moving forward or discuss how you’ll work around said credit score when hoping to accomplish your goals.
If your future spouse doesn’t know their credit score, they can check it for free with Credit Sesame.
3. What Are Your Financial Habits?
Depending on how you were raised and your background, you’ve likely developed certain financial habits throughout your life. You might be all about saving and be extremely frugal or you might enjoy spending your hard earned money and treating yourself every now and then, or maybe you’re a good balance of both.
Whatever habits you possess, your partner is bound to possess certain ones as well, and they may or may not align with yours. That being the case, finding out later on that you have different practices could cause tension and conflict to arise.
Ergo, before officially saying “I do,” be sure to discuss each others long-practiced customs and make a plan for what your money conventions will be as a couple.
4. What Are Your Financial Goals?
As a single individual you might have set long-term and short-term financial and life-goals for yourself. You may have even begun saving for them.
But, upon getting married, your goals might change or become altered.
The important thing to consider is that you’re both on the same page when it comes to what you hope to save for or where you hope to be financially five or ten years from now. Set financial goals together and figure out what it’ll look like for you to save for them as spouses. By doing so, you’ll also help set good habits and possibly a budget for the two of you.
5. How Will We Manage Financial Responsibilities?
In some cases, one partner might be more financially savvy than the other. This person might feel the need to manage your finances as a couple. In other instances, a couple might want to share the responsibilities of paying the bills, dealing with taxes, and investing.
Whatever route you choose, it’s important to decide who is going to handle various financial responsibilities. Moreover, in terms of handling financial responsibilities, be sure to discuss how you’ll deal with financial discussions or hardships. Decide how often you’ll have financial check-ins and evaluate your budget to ensure your finances are keeping in order.
6. What Are Your Thoughts on Merging Our Finances?
For many couples, one of the biggest financial decisions they’ll have to make will be just how to merge their finances.
Some choose to create a joint account in which they share both of their incomes and keep everything together. Others, on the other hand, might choose to keep their incomes separate. Or, they keep some income separate along with a joint account.
There are benefits to each, and every couple should figure out which path best suites them and their lifestyle. Moreover, however you choose to keep your money, make sure you come up with a well-thought out system for how your going to do so. After all, having transparency in your finances as a married couple is key to keeping financial harmony.
The Bottom Line
When you think of your marital life and all you have ahead of you and your spouse, your finances might be at the back of your mind. That being said, when you ponder all the decisions you’ll make going forward and your long-term goals, most decisions revolve heavily around those finances.
No matter where your finances are when you get married, they will inevitably be altered in ways you might not realize. Tying the knot means tying your finances. So, your spouse’s habits and financial history stand to greatly affect you going forward.
Before walking down the aisle and exchanging rings, take time to have a financial conversation. Gather some insight into your partner’s finances.
How do you plan to merge your financial habits with your partner? What are some tips you’ve found helpful when merging finances as newlyweds?