Premarital Counseling Advice: Talk About Finances Now

Reviewed Jun 8, 2017

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Summary

  • Discuss your financial pasts and assess your debt.
  • Tally your collective resources.
  • Discuss plans for your financial future.

You found the perfect life partner, fell head-over-heels in love, and now you're getting married. Congratulations. But before you dash off to sample wedding cakes or try on gowns, take the time to sit down and discuss something a little less romantic—finances. Experts often cite conflict over money as a primary cause of divorce. Some churches are even requiring engaged couples to receive premarital financial counseling. If you haven't already, discuss your financial past, present, and plans for the future with your dearly beloved. Now is the perfect time to talk about your attitudes towards money, compare management styles, and create a financial strategy that's right for the two of you.

The past

Your intended may know your entire life story, but have you revealed your credit history? Marriage usually means sharing both assets and debts. Even if there's some bad news (like a monstrous credit card bill that's been accumulating interest since college), at least you'll both have a realistic picture of your joint financial situation. You might consider swapping official copies of your credit records. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you have any outstanding student loans?
  • Are you paying off your car?
  • Do you have a mortgage?
  • Have you ever defaulted on a loan?
  • Do you owe money to your parents? A friend?
  • What are your credit card debts?

Work out how much you owe individually so you know how much debt you'll have as a couple.

The present

Once you've gone over your financial past, consider the financial present. If you've never discussed salaries, benefits, retirement plans, or investments, sit down with a calculator and tally your collective resources. You also might want to talk about:

  • Bridal budgets. How are you going to pay for the wedding and honeymoon? Your families may be willing to chip in, but you still could end up spending thousands. Create a realistic wedding budget and agree on the amount of debt you're willing to assume for the big day.
  • Health insurance. Once you're married, you probably will qualify for coverage under your spouse's health insurance plan. If you already have insurance, compare plans and switch to the superior plan after the wedding.
  • Money management. You may have a pretty good idea of how your betrothed handles money, but it's still wise to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a spender or a saver? Is your checkbook balanced to the penny, or did you misplace the pesky thing weeks ago? Work out a money management style that is comfortable for you both, and consider dividing responsibility for specific tasks (such as paying monthly bills or exploring investment options). You also might want to establish some ground rules on spending—such as always getting your partner's consent before making a purchase of $250 or more.
  • Savings and retirement. Experts recommend that most couples save 15 percent to 20 percent of their monthly income, but you'll discover there are scores of options for stashing that cash. You may want to split your savings between a bank account, investments and a retirement fund. Decide how much of your monthly budget you want to set aside, and exactly where you want that money to go.
  • Checking accounts. You can share one joint account, maintain completely separate accounts, or open a joint account for household expenditures and keep separate accounts for personal spending. Balancing a joint account can be a challenge so work out a system to keep track of what you've spent. For example, agree to put receipts in a special box or hold a weekly money meeting to record deductions. You'll also want to find out if your bank charges fees for writing checks, and whether you can use a savings account as overdraft protection.
  • Life insurance. If one partner is the primary breadwinner, or if both incomes are necessary to meet expenses, get appropriate life insurance coverage. Make sure you both know where the policy and other financial records are kept.

The future

You've talked about the past and organized the present, but what are your plans for the financial future? It's time to discuss your priorities, goals and any important obligations. If you're dreaming about buying that first house, you'll probably need to start saving for a down payment. Are either of you planning a major career change, or perhaps a return to school? When do you want to retire? Do you expect to financially support other family members in the future?

These issues could have a major impact on your married lifestyle—but by discussing these issues now, you're more likely to end up living happily-ever-after. 

By Lauren Greenwood
Source: The Knot, The Washington Post, MoneyCentral

Summary

  • Discuss your financial pasts and assess your debt.
  • Tally your collective resources.
  • Discuss plans for your financial future.

You found the perfect life partner, fell head-over-heels in love, and now you're getting married. Congratulations. But before you dash off to sample wedding cakes or try on gowns, take the time to sit down and discuss something a little less romantic—finances. Experts often cite conflict over money as a primary cause of divorce. Some churches are even requiring engaged couples to receive premarital financial counseling. If you haven't already, discuss your financial past, present, and plans for the future with your dearly beloved. Now is the perfect time to talk about your attitudes towards money, compare management styles, and create a financial strategy that's right for the two of you.

The past

Your intended may know your entire life story, but have you revealed your credit history? Marriage usually means sharing both assets and debts. Even if there's some bad news (like a monstrous credit card bill that's been accumulating interest since college), at least you'll both have a realistic picture of your joint financial situation. You might consider swapping official copies of your credit records. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you have any outstanding student loans?
  • Are you paying off your car?
  • Do you have a mortgage?
  • Have you ever defaulted on a loan?
  • Do you owe money to your parents? A friend?
  • What are your credit card debts?

Work out how much you owe individually so you know how much debt you'll have as a couple.

The present

Once you've gone over your financial past, consider the financial present. If you've never discussed salaries, benefits, retirement plans, or investments, sit down with a calculator and tally your collective resources. You also might want to talk about:

  • Bridal budgets. How are you going to pay for the wedding and honeymoon? Your families may be willing to chip in, but you still could end up spending thousands. Create a realistic wedding budget and agree on the amount of debt you're willing to assume for the big day.
  • Health insurance. Once you're married, you probably will qualify for coverage under your spouse's health insurance plan. If you already have insurance, compare plans and switch to the superior plan after the wedding.
  • Money management. You may have a pretty good idea of how your betrothed handles money, but it's still wise to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a spender or a saver? Is your checkbook balanced to the penny, or did you misplace the pesky thing weeks ago? Work out a money management style that is comfortable for you both, and consider dividing responsibility for specific tasks (such as paying monthly bills or exploring investment options). You also might want to establish some ground rules on spending—such as always getting your partner's consent before making a purchase of $250 or more.
  • Savings and retirement. Experts recommend that most couples save 15 percent to 20 percent of their monthly income, but you'll discover there are scores of options for stashing that cash. You may want to split your savings between a bank account, investments and a retirement fund. Decide how much of your monthly budget you want to set aside, and exactly where you want that money to go.
  • Checking accounts. You can share one joint account, maintain completely separate accounts, or open a joint account for household expenditures and keep separate accounts for personal spending. Balancing a joint account can be a challenge so work out a system to keep track of what you've spent. For example, agree to put receipts in a special box or hold a weekly money meeting to record deductions. You'll also want to find out if your bank charges fees for writing checks, and whether you can use a savings account as overdraft protection.
  • Life insurance. If one partner is the primary breadwinner, or if both incomes are necessary to meet expenses, get appropriate life insurance coverage. Make sure you both know where the policy and other financial records are kept.

The future

You've talked about the past and organized the present, but what are your plans for the financial future? It's time to discuss your priorities, goals and any important obligations. If you're dreaming about buying that first house, you'll probably need to start saving for a down payment. Are either of you planning a major career change, or perhaps a return to school? When do you want to retire? Do you expect to financially support other family members in the future?

These issues could have a major impact on your married lifestyle—but by discussing these issues now, you're more likely to end up living happily-ever-after. 

By Lauren Greenwood
Source: The Knot, The Washington Post, MoneyCentral

Summary

  • Discuss your financial pasts and assess your debt.
  • Tally your collective resources.
  • Discuss plans for your financial future.

You found the perfect life partner, fell head-over-heels in love, and now you're getting married. Congratulations. But before you dash off to sample wedding cakes or try on gowns, take the time to sit down and discuss something a little less romantic—finances. Experts often cite conflict over money as a primary cause of divorce. Some churches are even requiring engaged couples to receive premarital financial counseling. If you haven't already, discuss your financial past, present, and plans for the future with your dearly beloved. Now is the perfect time to talk about your attitudes towards money, compare management styles, and create a financial strategy that's right for the two of you.

The past

Your intended may know your entire life story, but have you revealed your credit history? Marriage usually means sharing both assets and debts. Even if there's some bad news (like a monstrous credit card bill that's been accumulating interest since college), at least you'll both have a realistic picture of your joint financial situation. You might consider swapping official copies of your credit records. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you have any outstanding student loans?
  • Are you paying off your car?
  • Do you have a mortgage?
  • Have you ever defaulted on a loan?
  • Do you owe money to your parents? A friend?
  • What are your credit card debts?

Work out how much you owe individually so you know how much debt you'll have as a couple.

The present

Once you've gone over your financial past, consider the financial present. If you've never discussed salaries, benefits, retirement plans, or investments, sit down with a calculator and tally your collective resources. You also might want to talk about:

  • Bridal budgets. How are you going to pay for the wedding and honeymoon? Your families may be willing to chip in, but you still could end up spending thousands. Create a realistic wedding budget and agree on the amount of debt you're willing to assume for the big day.
  • Health insurance. Once you're married, you probably will qualify for coverage under your spouse's health insurance plan. If you already have insurance, compare plans and switch to the superior plan after the wedding.
  • Money management. You may have a pretty good idea of how your betrothed handles money, but it's still wise to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a spender or a saver? Is your checkbook balanced to the penny, or did you misplace the pesky thing weeks ago? Work out a money management style that is comfortable for you both, and consider dividing responsibility for specific tasks (such as paying monthly bills or exploring investment options). You also might want to establish some ground rules on spending—such as always getting your partner's consent before making a purchase of $250 or more.
  • Savings and retirement. Experts recommend that most couples save 15 percent to 20 percent of their monthly income, but you'll discover there are scores of options for stashing that cash. You may want to split your savings between a bank account, investments and a retirement fund. Decide how much of your monthly budget you want to set aside, and exactly where you want that money to go.
  • Checking accounts. You can share one joint account, maintain completely separate accounts, or open a joint account for household expenditures and keep separate accounts for personal spending. Balancing a joint account can be a challenge so work out a system to keep track of what you've spent. For example, agree to put receipts in a special box or hold a weekly money meeting to record deductions. You'll also want to find out if your bank charges fees for writing checks, and whether you can use a savings account as overdraft protection.
  • Life insurance. If one partner is the primary breadwinner, or if both incomes are necessary to meet expenses, get appropriate life insurance coverage. Make sure you both know where the policy and other financial records are kept.

The future

You've talked about the past and organized the present, but what are your plans for the financial future? It's time to discuss your priorities, goals and any important obligations. If you're dreaming about buying that first house, you'll probably need to start saving for a down payment. Are either of you planning a major career change, or perhaps a return to school? When do you want to retire? Do you expect to financially support other family members in the future?

These issues could have a major impact on your married lifestyle—but by discussing these issues now, you're more likely to end up living happily-ever-after. 

By Lauren Greenwood
Source: The Knot, The Washington Post, MoneyCentral

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