3 Financial Moves to Make Before Getting Married

by Ashley Eneriz · 6 comments

getting married finances
Love can sometimes be blind, especially in the midst of an engagement and wedding planning. While I don’t think that love suddenly disappears after the honeymoon, like many would suggest, I do think the reality of finances can hit couples hard after they settle down.

Here are three smart financial moves every couple should consider before tying the knot:

married finance decisions1. Reduce Debt

You might not think your $3K credit card debt and $10K car loan are that big of a deal. In fact, you can probably afford the $200-300 payment easily each month. But your budget might start looking too tight when you combine your debt repayments with your spouse’s debt repayments, and then add on a bunch of new costs.

It’s important to know how much your combined debt will be when you get married. Both you and your loved one should disclose any debt or financial obligations. Once you know your combined total of debt, try to reduce it by 50 percent before the big day. This might mean taking more hours at work, doing side jobs, or getting a second job. It’s much easier to do this drastic debt attack before marriage then afterwards.

2. Discuss Your Financial Goals

Both you and your partner should spend time writing your goals on index cards and talking through them. Goals might look like this:

  • Being debt free
  • Going to school for a higher degree
  • Staying at home with children in three years
  • Take a vacation every year
  • Buy a home in two years

Whatever your goals are for the next 5-10 years, you have to incorporate them into your budget. If you both agree to have children and the wife will stay home with them in three years, then you need to take the right steps in the beginning of your marriage. You should be living off of one income right away, while establishing a strong savings account.

3. Rethink Your Wedding Costs

You might want to cut costs wherever possible if you are paying for your own wedding. Being saddled with a $30K or more of debt for one day of celebrating is a bit extreme. Pay for cash for your wedding whenever possible, and remember, the day is about you as a couple, not about making the wedding look like it belongs in a magazine. What is the point in impressing your guests with a lavish wedding if you are stuck paying for it for 10 years afterwards?

Getting married is an exciting time for all couples. I strongly suggest taking time to discuss your finances, financial goals, and budget before walking down the aisle. It might not be sexy to talk investing and budgeting, but it will prevent a lot of issues later in your marriage.

Are you getting married? What financial steps are you taking before the big day? Already married? What financial moves did you wish you took before getting married?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • eric van haaften says:

    We always try to advise people to reduce debt before starting any investment plan. You can save by eliminating interest you are paying and in many cases the interest rate is higher then you would earn in your investment!

  • Lisa says:

    I’m getting married this November. My fiancée and I are reducing debt (credit cards and medical debt), and having a very low cost wedding. We’re looking to buy a house this year too. Saving as much as we can.

  • Chella says:

    Most couples do not consider these three things before they get married. It is very important. Had my husband and I not considered about some of these three things, we would have had a stormy time together. We had in mind that some of the financial goals cannot be achieved without patience and tolerance.

  • Steven says:

    Great advice. Debts and financial planning are often overlooked before couples take the plunge and money issues far too frequently cause way too much needless trouble. I ran into a similar problem when I married and we eventually used a financial counsellor to help us resolve our financial issues. It’s really well worth the time to sit down and work out a strategy beforehand

  • Jeremy says:

    One I would add would be to discuss how to manage the now combined investment/retirement portfolios. A lot of couples are now coming into relationships/marriage with investment portfolios. How these portfolios should be managed is something to work out.

    Should they be combined? Should they be viewed as one big portfolio from an asset allocation? What will be held in each of the accounts? etc.

    As investing is a long term game (as is marriage) then these decisions should be made early to set the portfolio up for success 20 years down the line.

    P.S. Appreciate the article; hope these comments added something to it!

    • Ashley Eneriz says:

      That is an excellent tip! And the answer would really depend on the couple. My husband and I were 20/21 when we got married, so investing was not even on our minds. I would think it would be wise to have both separate and joint accounts. For example, if both spouses are working, tapping into the retirement investment benefits from each position would more logical and keep things organized. It is hard to answer this with the knowledge that so many marriages do end in divorce, which makes splitting up investments a bit messy.

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