Did you know that money issues are one of the top reasons couples divorce? While this may not come as a surprise, it’s a sad reality. So, if you’re soon-to-be-married, get ahead of potential financial problems by building a healthy financial relationship with your significant other now. First step? Read through this list of things you should know about each other's finances before you tie the knot.
Before discussing financial goals or budgeting, you’ll want to learn about each other’s financial values. For example, what does your partner believe the purpose of money is? Security? Freedom? Happiness? Identifying their money values will help you better understand your partner’s spending habits and why they may be more of a saver or a spender.
Once you’re both aware of each other’s financial values, it’s time to identify whether your financial habits align with your values. If not, come up strategies to change that. For example, if you eat out a lot but prefer home-cooked meals, carve out time each week to grocery shop and prep meals, so you can avoid unplanned restaurant trips.
Everyone has had experiences in the past that have impacted their beliefs and current financial state. Whether you and your partner have very different or similar backgrounds, you can learn from each other and benefit from one another’s strengths.
For example, let’s say one of you works a corporate job, and the other runs their own business. The corporate job will provide a regular salary, retirement savings, and health insurance for your family. If you plan on having kids, the partner with their own business may have more flexibility to work around the kids’ schedules and potentially lessen day care costs.
It’s important to get a complete picture of your partner’s outstanding debts, as this will impact you once you’re married. It’s extremely challenging to plan for your future without knowing the amount of debt your partner has. Knowing the amount of debt you’re facing will help you develop a realistic debt repayment plan. Being aware of your debt can also provide a comprehensive picture of how you can achieve future goals like buying a house.
Your and your partner’s credit histories can impact your ability to buy a car, buy a home, lease an apartment, and more. For this reason, knowing your partner’s credit history and credit score is essential. You can get a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Start tackling any credit issues now, so they don't negatively impact your marriage. For instance, if one of you has a low credit score and you want to own a home someday, you can work together to increase that score by the time you’re ready to buy a house.
Additionally, if you’re not already in the habit, keep an eye on your credit reports to ensure there are no discrepancies. Quarterly reviews are recommended, but, at a minimum, take a look once a year.
If you’re getting married, you probably already have a feel for your partner’s spending habits—maybe they tend to splurge or are more conservative with their money. Go beyond just observing and start having meaningful conversations about your spending habits. This will help you learn more about each other’s money beliefs and values, as well as the similarities and differences between you.
These conversations will build a strong foundation for more significant financial conversations in the future, such as your honeymoon budget, life insurance policies, the type of car you buy, and housing decisions.
MONEY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Once you’re married, you’ll need to decide who will be responsible for which elements of your finances. For example, will one of you pay all the bills, or will each be responsible for paying specific bills?Will you create a budget together, or will one of you draft it while the other is content to be given the plan to follow? Figure out your roles in money management ahead of time and save yourself from unnecessary misunderstandings down the road.
Pro Tip: While all marriages are different, it’s a good idea to split the responsibility of managing finances rather than having one person handle everything. Sharing ownership of these tasks avoids placing all the burden on one person, which can eventually lead to resentment.
Regardless of who does what, plan on having money check-ins at least once a month to review your budget, savings, and investments. This will keep both of you in the loop about your financial situation. It’s essential for both of you to know where all your money is, how bills are being paid, and other important financial responsibilities.
When you work together to get your financial house in order and have money-related conversations upfront, you can be intentional about planning for your financial future and form a solid foundation for your marriage.