There are many things engaged couples, and couples nearing engagement, do together and talk about together.
Included in those things should be some discussion of money and finances. I’m not talking only about how things might work after saying “I do!” but also about how things are right now, before the wedding or even before the engagement.
Money is at the top of the list of things that cause difficulties in a marriage, so avoiding or eliminating surprises should be a priority. If married life gets off to a bad financial start, the problems could be long-lasting.
After the wedding you will have to do things that make financial sense for your situation. Your situation will be unique, just like your marriage.
If at all possible, a couple should be on the same page financially before getting married. Honesty with yourself and with your future spouse is required.
First, you have to know where you are individually, financially speaking.
Second, you need to know where your future spouse is financially.
Third, the two of you should begin to talk about where you want to go together financially.
Do you know how your partner handles money right now?
Some things engaged couples should do and discuss:
Are there any philosophical or religious beliefs or issues that should be part of your financial planning together? Is there a philosophy about money and financial matters?
Have an open and honest discussion about any debt that exists on either side – credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc. If there is a lot of debt there must be understanding about how it will be paid off and when.
If there is a credit card debt problem, that problem needs to be addressed. Then some plans or decisions need to be made about how to avoid the problem in the future.
Plans should be made to have wills drawn up and executed soon after marriage, even if the wills are very simple. Discuss beneficiaries and executors.
If the marriage will result in a blended family with minor children, decisions should be made regarding guardianship and care of those children in case of the death of the parent. This should be documented in the wills.
Plan to have financial and health care powers-of-attorney drawn up also.
If either, or both, people were previously married there should be discussion regarding any alimony and/or child support obligations.
Some other considerations:
Will you live by a budget? How will the budget be created and managed?
What will be your saving and investing goals and objectives? What will be your retirement goals?
What will be your giving goals and objectives?
Who will manage the checkbook? Will there be a shared bank account?
Will both spouses work if there are children?
All of these issues, and others, do not have to be covered at once. When the talks do occur, be open and honest. Listen to where the other person is coming from. Realize that there may need to be some compromise to get to the place where you will both be comfortable.
I trust your marriage will get off to a great start!