You’re head over heels for your future spouse. But if you or your future spouse are upside down with debt, it can put a serious strain on your marriage. Before you tie the knot, tie up a few loose financial ends and have a discussion about money with your better half. Here are a few questions you can ask to get the conversation started.
1. Do you have any debt?
When it comes to matters of money, it’s best not to beat around the bush. Start by asking the most direct question of all and see where your debt discussion takes you. It might be as simple as reviewing a car loan together. But it also could be much more involved, including a discussion about student loans and credit card debt. Find ways to speak frankly about financial matters. An open discussion about debt can be good for your relationship.
2. How will we manage our money?
Make the decision before marriage whether you’re going to combine your incomes and accounts. Who’s going to take the responsibility for paying certain bills? And if you do have debt, how much of your income will go towards paying off your loans each month? While you’re at it, discuss setting up a budget to pay for wedding expenses and other expenses early in your marriage. This is also a good time to talk about putting money away for emergencies and starting to save for retirement.
3. Where should we set debt boundaries?
Regardless of your current debt situation, it’s important to establish spending boundaries with your future spouse. Have a discussion about when it’s okay to go into debt. Talk about responsible credit usage, including maintaining acceptable credit card balances. And take the opportunity to research and review recommended credit usage for your combined income categories. By setting debt boundaries early, you can avoid getting into debt trouble later in life.
4. Do you know your credit score?
If you’re eventually going to buy a home or make any major purchase with your partner, it’s important to know their credit situation. You could even take some time to review your credit reports together, just so there aren’t any surprises after marriage. Take the opportunity to take steps to repair any negative comments on your credit report and make goals to pay down some debt before the big day.
5. What financial goals do we want to establish?
No two people have the exact same financial goals. So, it’s important for every relationship to discuss individual financial goals and come up with joint goals that both of you can work toward. Write down your goals and remember that every good marriage includes at least some compromise. You may be on the same page in other areas of your life, but finances are a different ballgame. Find common ground and be supportive of one another’s financial goals.
All is fair in love. But if you or your future spouse don’t talk about money before marriage, you’re not being fair to each other or to your marriage. Find time to discuss money and you’ll start your life together on the right financial foot.