Money questions to ask before marriage
Marriage is not just a romantic union; it's also a financial one. By understanding your fiancé's financial situation and attitudes, you can work together to reach your goals faster. Here are five financial questions to ask before you get married.
1. How are we going to pay for bills?
First you need to decide who will pay the bills: either share the responsibility or have one of you pay all of them. Next, decide what'to do with your bank accounts. Some couples decide to keep separate accounts, while others merge all their finances. A third option is to have three accounts: mine, yours and ours. Use the joint account to pay shared bills, while keeping some financial independence with your personal accounts.
2. What are your financial goals?
You have probably talked about many of your goals - whether to have a family, when you want to retire. However, you may still need to figure out how close you both are to reaching them. For example, if you agree you want to buy a home, the next steps are deciding what type of home you want, how much you plan to spend, and how big a down payment you plan to save.
3. What is your budget?
A budget can help you monitor your spending and work towards your goals. For couples, a budget can also help you identify differences in your financial personalities. When comparing your budgets, you may realize that you approach money differently. Perhaps one of you is a spender while the other saves diligently. If that's the case, work with your fiancé to create a realistic shared budget that helps you reach your financial goals while respecting your different approaches to money.
4. What is your credit record?
If either you or your fiancé has a poor credit record, it may prevent you from qualifying for a loan or getting a low interest rate, if you apply jointly. It can also be a sign of an ongoing money management problem. Discuss how to change the behaviors that are hurting your credit score (e.g., overspending, missing payments). If one of you is chronically bad at handling money, consider having the more financially savvy one manage money for the both of you.
5. How are we going to protect our financial security?
Financial security includes everything from your emergency fund to what will happen if one of you dies. Review your health and life insurance to look for ways to save as a couple and to ensure your coverage is adequate for the two of you. Update your wills and investments to ensure that your future spouse is named as your heir. And compare your retirement savings to see if you need to change any of your investment allocations.
There are no right or wrong answers to any of these premarital questions. The important thing is to be honest with your fiancé so you can start building a strong financial union.
What's next? Creating your wedding budget