Getting married means more than just planning a wedding. It can also mean combining your finances, setting financial goals, determining who pays which bills, and planning for the future together. Before you walk down the aisle, it’s important to have a serious conversation about money with your partner. Here are some key things to consider:
1. Should we merge our finances?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; it depends on each couple’s preferences and situation. Merging your finances can make budgeting easier, but it could also lead to conflicts if your financial habits differ. For example, one partner might be more of a saver than the other. Ask each other questions about what merging your finances would look like and whether you’d like to merge only some of your finances. Talk openly with each other about what would work best for both of you before moving forward.
2. What should we do about debt?
If one or both of you have debt, discuss how you will manage and pay it off. Debt discussions can include credit cards, student loans, mortgage payments, car payments, and more. Decide whether you will pay the debt off together. Consider how you’ll tackle the debt, how long it will take to pay off, and how you’ll allocate funds for the future.
3. What are our financial goals?
As a partnership, you should both have a clear understanding of your long-term and short-term financial goals. This can include retirement savings, debt repayment, saving for a house, getting a new car, starting a business, or any other goals you both want to achieve together. Ask each other questions about the specifics of each goal and make sure you are aligned on what you want. Once you have these goals outlined, decide on a plan for how you will reach each one.
4. How do we budget?
Creating a budget can help you start married life off on the right foot financially. A good budget can ensure you are living within your means and not overspending. Sit down together and look at your monthly expenses. Decide what bills need to be paid, how much you can save for your financial goals each month, and where the money will come from.
5. Do you want to have children?
Having children can cause a major shift in financial priorities, so discussing this before getting married is essential. If you do want to have children, it’s important to plan for the long-term financial implications. To get an idea of the costs and how your budget will have to adjust, look into childcare costs in your area, figure out what you’d need to contribute to a college fund, and how your budget would need to adjust. Consider when you want to have children – knowing the timeframe can help you budget and plan effectively.
5. Should we get life insurance?
Life insurance can be an important form of protection for both spouses and their families. Life insurance can provide financial security should something happen to one partner. When discussing life insurance, consider how much coverage you need and what type of policy you want. Many new couples on a budget get term life insurance policies that cover them during a vulnerable period, such as the length of a mortgage or while a child or dependent is still a minor.
Getting on the same page
It is natural to feel overwhelmed by the number of financial considerations before getting married. Money conversations can be intimidating, but they are essential for trust and planning your financial future. With proper planning and honest communication, you can create a strong foundation as you build your future together.