When you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you probably only have minimal knowledge and insight into your partner’s finances. As your relationship grows and gets more serious, you tend to gain more knowledge about how your partner with money. If you are in a relationship and not thinking of marriage, read the Relationships and Finances article for some pointers on talking through finances at this stage.
If you are engaged and getting ready to tie the knot, but you haven’t had the money talk, keep reading! Finances are a big part of marriages and can be one of the leading causes of divorce. It’s very important to have a clear understanding of where your partner is financially, and it’s also important for them to understand where you are. While money conversations should have happened by now, the CGS Team is sharing 4 money questions to ask before you get hitched.
#1 How much debt do you have?
You may already have an idea of how much debt your partner has before you get engaged, but if not, it’s important to know exactly what kind and how much debt your partner has. Since marriage often comes with a merging of debts, you inherit your partner’s debts and vice versa. If your partner has a low credit score, a lot of credit card debt, and looming student loans, it could affect your score and your chances of financing together in the future.
Since debt is a scary and embarrassing topic, especially for the person who has it, make your partner as comfortable as possible. Start the conversation off with letting them know that you are completely invested in the future of the relationship and want to be transparent with your partner. If you or your partner has incredibly high amounts of debt, paying it down should be a high priority – especially before incurring more debt (like with a wedding, home, or car purchase).
A good activity would be looking at each other’s credit reports. There’s no denying what the report says, and if there are any inconsistencies, at least you will both be aware.
#2 What financial milestones do you want to achieve in life?
Does your partner prefer to buy a home or travel the world? Does your partner want to save for your children’s education or worry about it when it comes? Understanding what financial milestones your partner wants to achieve will give you an idea of where they stand, and vice versa. Are you on the same page with what milestones you want to achieve?
If starting a business is a milestone for you and not your partner, will doing so affect what you both are working on together? These are great questions to ask to have a clear understanding of what you both want out of life and where any extra money may be going.
#3 How will we blend our finances?
Will all of your assets be merged once you get married? Will you both have personal accounts for personal goals and spending? Who will take care of the bills? If these questions aren’t addressed before you get married, it could result in assumptions, confusions, and uncomfortable conversations in the future. If you decide to keep some finances separate, it should be agreed upon that joint priorities come first. Failing to do so could result in one partner feeling more concerned with the relationship than the other.
#4 If necessary, would you seek financial counseling with me?
While no one plans for financial burdens and setbacks to happen, they somehow always do. Asking your partner if they would be willing to seek help down the line, if needed, let’s you know that they are willing to work on their problems. Since money is a major cause of disruption in a marriage, knowing that your partner will seek help with you can be comforting.
The next part of this question, though it may not happen right away, is the ability to spot when help and/or counseling is needed. Ask your partner what limits they have before seeking professional help. Agree on a certain position or situation and stick to it. If you ever reach that position or situation as a couple, seek help instantly.
Financial clarity with your partner is an important part of the loyalty and trust fact or in a relationship. If one of you is struggling financially, you can help and encourage the other. You can’t help if you don’t know, so make it a point to have those conversations. What is your stance on marriage and finances? Are there any financial red flags that would stop you from taking the marriage leap? Share your thoughts and experiences on this subject by posting a comment below!