Nearly half of married couples divorce. And money problems are cited as the top reason couples choose to separate. But only half of recently married couples say they talked about money before their wedding.
Don’t be robbed of wedded bliss by letting money remain a mystery. Have the talk. You’ll be glad you did.
YOUR MONEY PAST
Be open about your past with money and ask clear and direct questions about your fiancés’. Tell them about any debt you have including student loans, medical debt, and car notes.
1. Do you have any debt? What kind of debt is it?
2. Do you have student loans? Are they on deferment? Do you have a plan to pay them back faster than 10 years?
3. Are you behind on any payments?
4. Do you owe money on your car?
YOUR MONEY VALUES
It’s been said that you can look at your calendar or your checkbook to see what you value. Look where you spent your money during the last couple of months. Do your spending habits line up with what you say you value?
Ask your fiancé about their monthly finances. Do they live on a budget? (A helpful, free budgeting tool is the EveryDollar app, also available online at everydollar.com). Are you financially independent or are your/his parents still paying for things like car insurance, cell phones, or life insurance? If they are, make sure you’ve got a plan for living independently. You don’t want to go into your marriage with your mother-in-law paying your phone bill.
5. How many open credit cards/store cards do you have?
6. Do you live on a budget? Do you plan to live on credit or will you save up and pay for big purchases like furniture, electronic, etc. with cash?
7. Are your mom and dad still paying for anything? Do you owe any family money?
YOUR MONEY PLAN
While it’s important to know where you are financially, it’s just as important to know where you’re going. Do you plan on buying a home soon? Make sure to outline a plan for how you’ll save for a good down payment (a good one is 20 percent to avoid something called PMI). Do you currently save for your retirement? Check with your employer about a company match. Feeling over your head? Get with an Endorsed Local Provider with the heart of a teacher and learn.
8. If you have debt, what is your plan for getting out of debt?
9. Are you saving for your retirement?
10. Do you plan on buying a home? Where do you see yourself living?
Make a plan in advance for what life will be like with your combined incomes. Using the free EveryDollar app or even a spreadsheet on the computer, add up your monthly expenses (be realistic) and make a budget you can both agree to.
The point of the money talk before marriage is to avoid surprises. Honesty is the foundation of trust. If you can’t be honest about your money, then it’s likely there are other issues waiting around the corner. Money mistakes don’t have to break your marriage. With open communication about money, you can face challenges together and come out stronger.
** Kennan and her husband took Financial Peace University in 2011 as newlyweds. They are now facilitating their first FPU class and are excited to help families find financial freedom.