5 Money Subjects You Need to Talk About Before Tying the Knot

by Miranda Marquit · 6 comments

Bursting the love bubble by sitting down and having a serious talk about finances is never fun, but open communication about money is a good idea in any relationship.

Those thinking of tying the knot should have a serious discussion about money at some point, preferably before you move in together or get married. Even if there are no plans to combine finances completely, it’s still good to clear the air and see if everyone is on the same page.

Here are five things that to talk about before moving forward:

1. Debt

One of the biggest things you need to talk about is debt. Get it out there. Even if you won’t be sharing finances, one person’s debt can have a profound impact on household finances. If you want to buy a home together or if you want to do other things, someone’s obligations can hold you back as a couple.

Have an honest talk about your debt levels, and see if you can make a plan to pay down the debt. Even if you don’t share finances, the partner without the debt is going to have to be supportive until the debt is paid off.

2. Credit

Credit goes along with debt, but it isn’t exactly the same thing. While it’s not vital that your partner have a perfect credit score, it is a good idea to see where you both stand, and be honest about the situation.

At some point, if you decide to get a joint loan together (for a car or a home), both of your credit scores will matter. Talk about it so you know what you need to do to get things up to scratch. If one of you has a poor score, you might have to wait a little longer before you accomplish some of your goals.

marriage and finance3. Money Philosophy

This is a bigger deal than you might think. For a long time, my ex and I struggled in our marriage because he likes things and I value experiences. Neither of us was more right than the other, but it did make for some interesting discussions when we were nailing down our money priorities.

It’s a good idea to know whether or not you have the same money values before you take that next step. Spenders and savers need to be able to come up with a plan to compromise. If you like spending your money on lots of books, and your partner prefers movies, you might need to come up with a plan to make sure you both get what you want at least some of the time.

4. How to Handle Kids and Money

If you think you’ll have kids together (and that’s another conversation you need to have before taking things to the next level), you need to talk about how you’ll handle kids and money.

Do you want to save up for college for them? How will you handle allowance? Extracurricular activities?

These are big questions you need to tackle together so you are on the same page. It’s vital to know early on so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised later.

5. Retirement

Chances are, you both want to save for retirement. But do you have a shared vision for what that looks like? Before you commit to a long-term, life partner relationship, make sure you talk about how you want to handle retirement. It can be tough if one of you expects to sit at home most of the time, and maybe play golf a couple times a week, while the other wants to sell the house and everything in it to travel the world.

In the end, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page so that all the money goals are being reached together. Take the time to have a discussion now so there are fewer surprises later.

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  • Adriana @MoneyJourney says:

    My significant other and I moved in together pretty fast, but we did know exactly where we stand with our finances. We were both in serious debt 😀

    I do agree talking about money issues is important. It may not be romantic, but unfortunately the ugliest couple fights I’ve heard about involved money troubles! So, romantic or not, it’s important to know where both partners stand!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Talking about money is surely not romantic, but it’s one of the best ways to show that you love each other because you are actually building a better future together.

      Now go tackle your debts together Adriana!

  • Anders says:

    Good post and good points, thanks for this!

    Even if these can be conversations that are a bit difficult to have, it’s well worth it in the long run.

    Me and my wife were a bit weird I guess and got married while we were still studying and only had part time jobs. Still we were making enough compared to our expenses so we could still save money. Hence, we thought we were doing good enough economically.

    For point 4, I would like to add that it’s also good to talk about when to have kids. It’s not uncommon to see young couples who get kids when they aren’t at a very good point in life money-wise to have children.

    For me and my wife, this meant that we decided that we wouldn’t have children until we both had full time jobs and had been working for a few years. It might be a bit pragmatic, but it’s just to make the best life for the kids in my opinion.

    I do realize that not all pregnancies are planned and that it’s not possible to have this discussion then. And sometimes life just happens… literally.

    Thanks again for the post Miranda!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Planning to have kids is both sensible and financially smart, so good point there Anders.

      I don’t think it’s weird at all. I might be opening a can of worms here but it’s actually better to meet someone earlier in life IMO because you fall in love with more of the actual person and not so much with their established lifestyle.

  • Corbin says:

    Thanks for the post Miranda. These are all really good points. Before my wife and I got engaged we had most of these discussions. What are your thoughts for couples where one person has debt and the other is debt free? Should the debt free individual help to pay down the other’s debt, or focus on building an emergency fund/other savings? For my wife and I, a joint force assault on debt was the answer. It always nice to hear other opinions though. Thanks!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      I think couples have to combine everything whether it’s with one or two separate accounts if they truly want to build a life together. Treat the debt as the family’s debt and answer the question that way. If everything is separate and hidden then it’s going to be hard to have everything work out unless both parties have more money than the family needed and financially stress was never really a worry.

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