The first thing you should talk about before marriage is money! These tips for engaged couples and finances will help you figure out your finances before you walk down the aisle.
You need to discuss your financial goals before you get married.
“Should we marry our money before we say ‘I do’?” is a common question for engaged couples. Here’s financial advice from The Money Couple:
“You absolutely should not mix money before marriage!” say Scott and Bethany Palmer, financial experts and authors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication. “Don’t marry your money until you are legally married. We have seen too many engagements end, leaving couples who have combined their money with the painful task of sorting it all out during an already difficult time.”
To get started on your financial goals as husband and wife, read The Couple’s Guide to Love & Money.
And, here are The Money Couple’s tips for figuring out your finances for engaged couples…
Finances for Engaged Couples – Money Before Marriage
If you’re planning a marriage proposal or a wedding, you probably already share your money. Here, the Money Couple is talking about financial issues such as joint savings accounts, shared credit cards, retirement funds, and checkbooks. Combining these finances before you’ve created a legal union can create headaches you simply don’t need.
But just because you’re not sharing all your money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking about it. We believe that strong financial communication has to start before you get married – hopefully before you even get engaged. If you are engaged or seriously dating someone and thinking about co-mingling your money, plan a Money Huddle and talk about the six topics that will save your marriage before it has begun…
Learn about your money personalities
If you don’t know your money personalities (who is the spender? who is the saver?), find out what they are. Understanding how each of you thinks about and deals with money is the foundation of healthy financial communication. And if you can’t communicate about money, you have a long, painful future ahead of you. So find out who you are, talk through how you are difference from each other, and think about how you will compromise when the inevitable conflicts come up. If you do nothing else, do this.
If you tend to worry about money, talk about your financial stress before you get married.
Make a plan to pay off your debt, if either of you owe money to creditors
There is no substitute for an honest conversation about paying off your debt. If you’re in debt, tell your partner about it. Figure out how the two of you will pay it off. How will that debt impact your finances for the next few years? How can you work together to manage the debt? Figuring out your finances for engaged couples involves being honest and real.
Figure out your combined financial incomes
Get a realistic picture of the present and the future money goals by talking about how much you each earn now. It’s amazing how many people don’t really know what their spouses get paid! Knowing your fiancé’s salary or wage will help you make plans for the first few years of your life together, it helps prevent financial problems from causing problems in your marriage.
Calculate your monthly expenses
Do you have a car payment? A gym membership? Medical expenses? Loan payments? Hopefully, you know how much money you spend each – and if you don’t, then before you get married is a perfect time to figure out your expenses! You should both think through every regular expense you have and write it down. Combine those totals to get an idea of how much you’ll spend as a couple and compare it to your joint income. How does it look? If you have some wiggle room, great. If you are spending way more than you’re earning, you know you’ll have some budget decisions to make once you start your life together.
Talk about saving money before you get married
Whether you have $100 in savings or $100,000, you need to talk with your fiancé about what you have and what you’re saving for. Talk about more than just the amount you’ve saved – talk about how you got it there. How important is it to you to have money in savings? What kind of sacrifices have you made to put money away? What investments do you have-or hope to have? Planning for your financial future – retirement, college funds, vacation or emergency money- will be an ongoing conversation in your love relationship. You might as well combine money and marriage now!
Discuss your financial goals and expectations as a married couple
You’ve probably had lots of dreamy conversations about your life together. But have you included the “how-we’re-going-to-pay-for-this” part? Probably not. Eventually, engaged couples who are planning their wedding need to talk realistically about their vision for their future. Engaged couples also need to talk about the implications that vision has for their finances. Is this a romantic thing for engaged couples to do? Not really. Is it necessary? Yes! When you’re talking about money and marriage, cover everything. Do you want to own a house? How soon? Do you see yourselves living in a specific part of the country? What will that mean for your finances? How do you think children will change your financial picture? Will one of you want to stay home and raise kids? Do you see yourself changing careers? Going back to school?
And, you can expect to fight about money after marriage! To prepare, read How to Apologize to Your Spouse After a Money Fight.
Figuring out the finances before planning a wedding will help engaged couples achieve their financial goals after their married – which can help create a happy marriage!
For more money tips, read First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication.
If you have any thoughts about money, engaged couples, and getting married, please comment below…
If you know in your heart it's time to move on, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
For more info about the Palmers, visit The Money Couple.