Discussing finances with your future spouse may not be the most romantic topic, but it is an important conversation to have. If you’re newly engaged, now is the time to have the talk. Marriage is a big life change, and there are financial implications that come with it. This isn’t a topic you should avoid. Not being on the same page financially can lead to marital conflict and consumer debt later. Here are some of our credit counseling tips for discussing finances with your future spouse:
Talk about your financial goals and values.
First and foremost, you and your future spouse need to be aware of each other’s financial goals and values. Maybe your S.O. wants to buy a house soon. Maybe you want to focus on building up your retirement savings or emergency fund. Make a list of your goals, and come up with a plan on how to reach them together.
Determine how you will approach banking and bills.
There is no right answer on the “best” way to approach banking and bills with your future spouse. Some couples keep their money in totally separate bank accounts. Others have a mix of joint accounts and personal accounts. Finally, some couples combine all their assets together. If you are keeping money separate, you should also discuss who is responsible for what bills or if you will be splitting all the bills.
Be aware of each other’s debt and credit scores.
If you are chipping away at credit card debt or student loans and you haven’t informed your partner, it’s time to come clean. Your debt will continue to impact your financial life into marriage. It will affect the timeline on achieving your financial goals, and if you plan on buying a house, your debt-to-income ratio is taken into account.
Besides debt, you should also know each other’s credit scores. Again, if your goal is to buy a house someday, your credit scores (BOTH of your credit scores!) will be an important factor for lenders when you apply for a mortgage. If you have a lot of debt and your credit scores aren’t where you want them to be, come up with a plan together to tackle those issues.
Create a budget together.
If you haven’t already, sit down and create a budget together. What is your joint income? What are your expenses? How much will you be putting away in savings or for retirement? Do you have any financial obligations besides your own expenses, e.g. supporting an elderly parent or paying child support? Factor all of these into your budget.
Obviously this conversation should continue throughout your marriage. You need to stay on the same page financially, and you can do that by holding weekly budget meetings or using whatever other money management techniques work for you. Additionally, you should also discuss the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement with your partner. No one wants to think about the relationship coming to an end, but life happens, and you need to be prepared for anything!
If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help you. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today!