Congrats, you’re getting married! You think you know everything about the one you are about to marry and spend your life with, but do you really?
One of the most important topics to discuss before getting hitched is finances. Some couples play the “we’ll talk about it when it comes up” game when it comes to money. That’s not the best approach, because financial stress in a marriage can be a real strain.
The money talks can be a little awkward, but they are better than money arguments that could’ve been avoided. Differences in handling finances is one of the top reasons why couples split.
Take the time to learn about each other’s opinions now before it’s too late. Let’s talk about finances and marriage.
Here are 15 important finance questions to ask your future spouse:
1. How much debt do you have and where is this debt?
This is a big question and an important one. Student loans, car loans, credit card balances or any other debt needs to be out in the open for both of you. It’s good to be aware of debts in case one of you loses your job and one person has to take on all the bills.
» Learn more: Cover Your Debt with Term Life Insurance
2. What is your credit score?
If you decide to apply for an apartment or a loan together, it’s nice to know where you both are with your credit scores. This can help to avoid any awkward conversations if you were to get declined for a loan because of bad credit.
3. Would you rather spend money on experiences or a home?
This is a great question to see where each other’s priorities are. Some people prefer to have a beautiful home and tangible items whereas others like to invest in traveling and experiences.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
4. Do you owe any family members or friends money?
Getting financially involved with family and friends can cause an entirely unexpected set of issues. If you do owe money to friends or family, try to make it a priority to pay them back to avoid any tension and animosity.
5. Do you use credit cards?
If so, do you pay them off every month? Some people use credit cards for all expenses to build up credit and earn points for rewards, but pay them off right away. Does your mate use credit cards because they don’t have money in the bank? That’s a different story. Make sure to get on the same page as each other on credit card usage.
6. Are there any bankruptcies or negative financial events in your past?
It’s not fun to talk about money problems you may have dealt with in the past. But it’s worse if your partner finds out on their own.
Be honest and talk to one another about things you’ve learned from past money issues.
7. How do you want to handle paying the bills?
Will one person be in charge of handling all the expenses, or will it be a partnership? Will we pool all the bills together or keep some expenses separate?
8. Will you have a joint checking account or keep them separate?
If you’re going to have a joint account, then you definitely need to have regular financial discussions. There is no hiding that pair of shoes you bought last week.
9. Are you a saver and do you have a saving account?
Whatever your degree of savings is, you should discuss having a savings account. It’s important to have an emergency fund tucked away in case you need money for medical expenses, vet bills, car repairs, or home maintenance.
10. How do you spend discretionary money? What’s essential versus non-essential?
Is a trip to the hair salon once per month essential? Is a golf course membership essential? Be sure you’re aware of each other’s daily and monthly habits that cost money. A discussion may be necessary if these current choices will hinder accomplishing your future goals.
11. Do you want a prenuptial agreement?
Celebrities aren’t the only people with prenups. Prenuptial agreements are becoming more common, says Business Insider.
To the Millennial generation and younger, divorce isn’t ideal, but it’s also not taboo. As children, these people grew up with about half of their friends having divorced parents.
Millennials are waiting longer to get married. They need more time to accumulate assets. Once they are finally financially stable, they want to protect it. A prenup can protect not only their independent net worth but also not get saddled with debt that wasn’t theirs to begin with.
12. Do you want children?
This discussion probably happened long before the question was popped, but it’s important to talk about the financial costs of having kids. Maybe you want one child and your mate wants three. Along with talking finances with children, you will have to think about daycare versus staying at home, private or public schooling and will you be paying for their college educations?
13. If you have children, do you both continue to work?
The cost of full-time child care in the United States is about $16,000 per year. Depending on how close in age your children will be, and therefore how many children you’ll be paying child care for, it may be more cost-efficient for one of you to stay home for a few years. Be sure to think through the pros and cons.
14. What are your retirement goals?
What different types of retirement savings plans do you each have? How much are you contributing annually?
Do you want to move south when you retire? Do you want to buy a second home? Would you prefer to spend retirement traveling? Talk about your long-term dreams, even if it seems far down the road.
15. Do you have life insurance?
Maybe you both have life insurance through work, but that might not be adequate. You want to make sure your loved ones are protected from a financial disaster if you were to die. If you have anyone that depends on you financially, then you should have life insurance.
How much depends on you and what you can afford. You can run a quick term life insurance quote and use Quotacy’s life insurance needs calculator to help you get a better understanding of how much coverage you need.
» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator
With finances and marriage being one of the biggest reasons for arguments between couples, it’s helpful to sit down and get it all out in the open. There aren’t any right or wrong answers. It’s just great to know where you and your loved one are at with finances.
Now that you got that out of the way, go back to wedding planning. Don’t worry, if you really enjoyed the money talk, there will be more in the future.