When my husband and I got married after just three months of dating (that included the three-week engagement, by the way), we had a very brief conversation about money before we tied the knot.
It went something like:
Me: “I make (this much money). How much do you make?”
Him: “I make (this much.)”
Me: “That should be enough to live on, right?”
They say there are no bigger fools than fools in love…hmm I wonder why?
It wasn’t until after we got married that we realized how much financial work we had ahead of us. We finally sat down and created a budget and a plan for paying off the more than $45,000 in debt we had.
If there was anything that would have made our first couple years of marriage, it would have been to have had a better financial standing when we got married. Starting off marriage in debt is not the best way to begin a union.
Having a conversation about money, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, will be the perfect way to get your thoughts and priorities in order before you merge finances (if that’s what you decide to do).
Here are five money questions to ask before you get married so that you don’t make the same mistakes we did:
- What’s your credit score? Knowing someone’s credit score can lead to a much bigger discussion. If you both have outstanding scores, it will be a lot easier to get a line of credit or mortgage once you’re married. If one of you has a credit score that isn’t so great, the discussion can lead to questions like why they made those financial decisions at that time. The important question to ask is if they’re working on improving their credit or if they don’t see their low credit score as a bad thing.
- What are your priorities and goals when it comes to money? If you plan on buying a house and your partner is more focused on spending money living in the NOW, you need to come up with an action plan as to how you plan on saving for a house. Savers vs. Spenders definitely balance each other, but it can also make seeing eye-to-eye on money goals a bit difficult. Having a conversation before marriage will help things run more smoothly after you tie the knot.
- Who will manage the finances? Someone may be horrible with money and another may be a CPA, either way it’s important to make sure you’re both aware of your financial standing. Coming up with a game plan of managing finances help alleviate stress.
- How do you feel about saving for retirement? Vacations? Big-money ticket items? It’s important to figure out how you plan on saving for big money items, like vacations and retirement. How much do you plan on spending on both?
- How much debt do you have? Knowing a person’s debt is invaluable because it will also help you come up with an action plan to get rid of it. It may also make you aware that your partner may not have a negative view when it comes toward debt and is perfectly content with keeping the debt.
These are great questions to get started on having a financial conversation and getting your finances in order before you get married.