When it comes time to get married it is important to be completely open about your finances. It can be difficult if you have made financial mistakes in the past. If you start out with open communication it will carry though into your marriage. Here are the five most important financial topics to discuss with your spouse before you get married.
First you should discuss any debts that you may each have. If you have student loan debt, you should not consolidate it together. There are many benefits that allow you to keep this separate. If you have credit card debt, you should quickly work to paying it off. Once you are married, you should only have one credit card account, and it should be a joint account. You should work on paying off all personal loans together. If you both own homes, you should sale one home or both and have the other home put into both of your names.
Second you should discuss any assets that you have. This can be your retirement savings, homes that you own, cars, general savings and general investments. It is important that you begin to view these assets as mutual. Your retirement savings in 401k plans or IRAs are connected solely to you. You may choose to cash in come investments or assets to pay down your debt.
Third, you need to know about each other’s spending and savings habits. It is generally best if these are fairly similar, although you can adjust in different areas to help each other out. You need to be able to communicate effectively on these topics, and if you understand the reasons why you each like to spend or save it can make communicating much more effective.
Fourth, you need to air out any financial dirty laundry. This is the time to confess that you have declared bankruptcy or have stopped paying on credit cards. You should make sure that you make a complete and full disclosure with your soon to be spouse about any debt issues. This is especially true when you are thinking about debt. If your spouse later learns that you have hidden something from her, it can cause serious trust issues in the marriage.
Fifth, you need to discuss how you each feel about money. This is different than spending and savings habits. You may want to discuss the following questions: How did your parents handle their money? Would you do anything differently? Did you have to work for anything you wanted or did your parents simply provide you with it? Do you see money as a tool or as a burden? Do you like to save or give or spend the most? Should we give money to others?