Tying the knot is an exciting stage in any relationship but you need to remember the need to talk about your finances before getting married. You might think that this is really part of the plan since weddings can be quite expensive. From the church to the food and even from the gown and the invites, the list just does not seem to end.
However, before you start planning your wedding expenses, you need to have a serious talk about your finances in general. This pertains to each of your finances as a single person which you will both be combining when you get married. This includes each of your sources of income as well as expenses and debt obligations you might have.
Talking about finances before getting married might sound like a drag and might give off the wrong impression to other people. They might start to think that you or your future partner is just in it for the money. One thing you have to understand is that you will never be able to please everyone around you. If you take that up as your goal in life, you will never succeed.
There is also no need to announce what you want to do to the whole world. There are areas in your relationship you need to keep between the two of you and this is one of them. The main goal of talking about your finances is to make sure that you get to use it to help you both enjoy married and life and to reach your dreams together. Remember that Marriage.com shares that money is one of the top reasons for divorce. If you are serious about this step in your relationship, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Know your own personal financial situation
When you and your future spouse are willing to talk about finances before getting married, you each need to reflect on your personal situation first. You need to get to that conversation with a full and clear understanding of what you are bringing to the relationship. It is important that you know what your income, expenses, as well as debt levels, are before talking about marital finances.
Look at your personal budget and update it with your income and expense items. Apart from your regular day job, have you added any sources of income to your finances? It can be a side gig you have on weekends or even an income-positive hobby you spend time on during weekdays after work. You need to include this in your budget.
The same goes for expenses you have every month as well as big-ticket items that you are still paying for. This can be credit card debt or even your student loan payments every month. You need to make sure that you have a comprehensive list of financial responsibilities. This allows you to work with an updated budget and be able to talk to your future spouse about finances
What do you want to know about your partner’s finances
When you are going to talk about finances before getting married, you also need to have an idea of what you want to know from your partner. This can help you understand what your combined income and expenses are. It might also be to help you plan out your big payments over the next few years after you get married.
Set a specific schedule for your financial talk
You need to set a specific date when you want to talk about your finances. This is because each of you needs to prepare for it. When you talk about your finances, you will be dealing mostly with money. That is an exact figure you cannot make a mistake on. One small error in the number can lead to big problems down the road.
When you have both agreed to talk about finances before getting married, you can make the experience a fun event. It does not have to be a boring day at home going through the numbers of your finances. Why not time it on a break where you get to head on out to the beach for some sun? You can spend a few hours in the afternoon talking about your finances then take a swim after. This way, you can look forward to it and enjoy your time talking about it as well.
How to handle the conversation
Now that you are set to talk about your finances before tying the knot, here are a few things to keep in mind to make the actual conversation go as smoothly as possible.
Honesty is the key to talking about finances before getting married
When you start talking to your future spouse about money, you need to keep the conversation an open one. You need to be very honest with all the details of your finances. Forbes shares that you need to disclose your financial situation to your future partner. Do not try to hide debt payments under your name. It can be because you are ashamed of the amount you have to pay for it. Remember that when you get married, you will both be paying it down.
The same goes for your income and try not to hide any money that you are earning on a regular basis. Remember that when you get married, you will be combining your finances into one basket. Just as you will work together in addressing your debt concerns, you both need to know how much you have coming in every month. You will be using this money to pay for your expenses as well as plan for your future needs.
Do not shame your partner if they have a bigger debt obligation
There is a good chance that one of you will be carrying a bigger debt problem under their name. These types of revelations will come out when you agree to talk about your finances before getting married. One thing you need to watch out for is putting shame on that person that has a bigger financial obligation.
This can be a higher student loan or even credit card debt with balances dating back from both of your college years. It might even be medical debt coming from a medical scare your partner had in the past. These debt obligations pile up over time and if times have been hard, the payment might be limited to the minimum amount.
Agee to work on a solution together
Once you have a clear idea of what your individual financial situations are, you can start to put together a plan to manage your finances together. You now both know how much your total income will come to in a month as well as your expenses. These numbers will help you put together a budget you will use when you get married.
After you talk about your finances and identify the big debt obligations you each have, you can also start to plan how you can pay them down more aggressively during the first few years of your marriage. The idea is to pay them down as fast as you can so you can both focus on the goals and targets you have in life.
Create common goals to inspire you to pay off debt faster
During that talk, you both need to also layout what your plans and goals are for the relationship. You could also have some personal goals you want to reach and if you both have an idea of what these things are, you know how you can support each other. Take this time as well to agree on the plans you have in your relationship.
This can be about your housing situation if you will rent for the time being and when you will be getting a place of your own. You can also talk about having a baby or putting it off after a few years to concentrate on your debt payments early in your marriage. It could also be traveling and how you can both save up for your dream destination.
It is always a good idea to talk about finances before getting married so you have an idea what your money situation will be in the coming years. This also helps strengthen your relationship and puts both of you on the same page with your finances.