You found that perfect person who completes you that you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Now you are getting married! It’s a big step and will be one of the biggest days of your life. Sharing your life with someone is a wonderful, intimate experience.
But are you intimate enough? Have you sat down and had the money talk?
Money talk, you ask?
Yes, money talk. Have you sat with your spouse-to-be and have a serious talk about our finances? I mean intimate talk. Telling each other about your money history, your money experiences, your debts, your plans, your thoughts about money and debt…a real honest talk.
Do you know many couples don’t have this talk? Did you also know that many marriages end because of money?
Why don’t more couples disclose their money thoughts and history?
This is very similar to why more don’t have a budget. Some people are embarrassed about their past and are afraid of being judged. Others don’t want to have to answer for their spending habits and have to answer for what they spend. I wouldn’t be surprised if many just don’t think d talking about money. Whatever the reason you aren’t allowing yourself to have a complete relationship by keeping money secrets from your significant other.
Here’s what to discuss in your money talk:
Credit Card Debt
Let your partner know where you stand with your credit card debt. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re going to share your lives together and this includes your debt as well. It’s better to get this out in the open now.
What Credit Cards You Have
Discuss what credit accounts you both have open. You may find that you have way too much credit between the two of you. This also helps to improve trust in that you don’t have any secret credit cards the other doesn’t know about.
Your partner has a right now they are possibly marrying into tens of thousands of dollars in student loans debt.
Past Money Problems
Talk about past issues you’ve had with money. It’s ok that you’ve had bad money experiences. Talking about your past money issues will help your future spouse understand your emotions about money.
Bills You Currently Pay
Show each other a list of everything you currently pay. Again you should both get an idea of what bills are coming into the relationship. You may be able to eliminate a lot or combine some (like cell phone accounts).
How and Where You Save/Your Checking
Disclose your savings and checking accounts and your current savings plans. Discuss how you want to handle these once you are married. Put together a plan for both of you to save. Will you keep separate accounts? Will you combine them? Talk about it!
What type of accounts to you save for retirement in? Get the paperwork prepared to add each other as beneficiaries on each other’s accounts. Talk about how you both feel about retirement and how you will save for it.
How Will You Handle Spending
Do you want to come home one day and find a huge flat screen TV? Maybe you do but its got to be paid for doesn’t it? Discuss how you will handle purchases. Put together a plan for how you will go about purchases and what kind of purchases you’ll both discuss before making.
Who Pays What
Who will be responsible for what bills? Where will the money come from? If you have two checking accounts which account will pay what?
Credit Reports and Scores
Pull your credit report and credit scores and share them with your partner. This is full disclosure with your partner about what accounts you have and black marks you have on your report. It can also be a great surprise in finding out how great your credit has been!
In order for you to start off right in your marriage you need to be honest and share yourself. Keeping secrets about money and finances from your partner is dishonesty. I think you’ll find that when you talk to your partner you will build up your trust and this will lead to a greater, more intimate bond between you!
Are you going to let money ruin your marriage?
photo credit: makelessnoise
This is an excellent article and a very essential step for couples and marriage.
I would have the money talk if I started seeing someone and knew there was potential for long term, and i mean marriage wise.
And i’ve had this talk and it was great because I got to learn alot about the person but I also saw that their habits and goals were similar with mine.
Thats another thing, find someone who has similar habits and goals as yourself.
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@ Tom – Without talking about money you may be leaving important fact out that could make your relationship better such as similar goals financially (or you may discover you don’t have the same ideas at all).
@ Lee – Thanks Doc. I like how you describe money as being a power struggle. A couple in sync shouldn’t have to struggle over money issues between them.
@ Olivia – Absolutely! Just as goals can change, money situations change. A couple should continue to be open and talk o each other about money. It all starts somewhere though and I think too many couples don’t discuss financial issues early enough.
Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D. says
If only more couples WOULD have the “money talk” before marriage! As you may have heard, finances is listed as the #1 cause for divorce.
And, it isn’t having money or not having money that causes the problem. It is the power struggle over money issues.
Money is so symbolic that couples tend to get caught up in the power struggles, failing to see how marriage can actually bring them together rather than tear them apart.
Great article! Keep up the good work!
Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.
author of Save The Marriage
I am definitely a huge supporter of talking about money within the marriage. My husband and I talk about our finances all the time. We have talked about our goals for the future and how to get there. I would argue that instead of having a “money talk”, couples should talk about about finances regularly to make sure that both people are on the same page.
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Our biggest problem is our priorities. I’m an experience person and he’s a stuff person. I like to have experiences (travel, eating out, etc.) and he’d rather have a bigger TV and a bigger home. It’s a bit tricky to balance these desires sometimes. But if we talk about it and compromise, things seem to work out better.
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@ Miranda – It may be tricky but I bet it’s a lot easier to talk about it than keep secrets about it? Things do seem to work out better when you can discuss them with your spouse.
Right on! It’s important to keep the money discussion going, well into your marriage. My husband and I talk about different aspects of our finances on a regular basis.
Money is never a sore subject for us.
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I agree. More people should discuss finances before getting married. A lot of people don’t realize how big an issue it is until they start arguing or disagreeing over money. It’s unromantic, but it’s crucial in a relationship/partnership.
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@ Kacie – Sounds like you have a great relationship!
@ JMom- It may seem unromantic but it can help build trust and intimacy knowing you are sharing financial details with your loved one and are on the same page. I agree, many don’t realize how big an issue it can be until they are deep in it.
@ Ken – Thanks!
the problem is if you are not on the same page
Excellent advice. Having the talk about debt and attitudes about it is critical to starting out on the right foot. Honesty is the best policy.
I loved it when you pointed out that financial intimacy is like budgeting. Everyone knows it is important and they should have one, but very few actually do it. To take this one step further, doing regular budgets and reviewing it with your partner (or doing them together) will help in making sure that your financial dreams, goals and actions are aligned. Whether you keep your accounts separate or together, whether you pay bills from a joint account or from separate accounts, make a joint budget and discuss it together.
@ Arohan – Great way to put it!
Isn’t money the number one cause of divorce? I agree with everyone else, if only we would have these hard conversations before things become a problem. Money is one of those taboo subjects, but if you want to spend your life with someone, you should be able to trust them enough to tell them about all of your financial habits. If you neglect to disclose the small stuff, like a thousand dollars in credit card debt here, and a few late payments there, things that were once manageable can grow out of control. That’s why paying close attention to the power of small at the start of your marriage, laying everything out on the table and trusting your spouse to understand is the only thing to do. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, maybe that’s not the person you should marry!
@ Kate – Isn’t it amazing that a couple can discuss all the crazy things they did in college but they won’t discuss money? Even if your finances are horrible at least talking about them with your partner gets it out in the open. If the person truly is the one for you then they will help you figure things out.
@FFB Yes, absolutely! I think in the end, for a lot of people it comes down to one of two things: trust and shame. But, if someone loves you enough to spend the rest of their life with you, you shouldn’t be ashamed to be who you are and you should trust that they will accept you.
@ Kate- Very well put! Thank you.
@ Heather – A budget is always a good idea. Doing with your partner is even better (the budget that is)!
Not is your partner is bent on spending every penny you have and not saving for the rainy day
Nice tips here. Perhaps setting up a household budget once all the debts, bills, etc. are on the table could be a great stepping stone for those future ‘big’ purchases such as a house. Looking at a budget and finding ways to reduce expenses may also yield answers towards retirement savings as well. I agree with Arohan– discussing these items together is essential.
I’ve seen money ruin marriages and many times the couple doesn’t even have a clue that money is the cause. They say that they don’t get along but the reason they don’t get along is because they argue over how to spend money and are so stressed out because they’re broke that they constantly attack each other.
Plus if one spouse thinks the other spends money irresponsibly then he/she will lose respect for the other person. Lack of respect leads to constant bickering.
So money can be the root cause of many marriage problems.
Every marriage faces money problems once in lifetime. Treat each other equally with respect. When both of you are earning, then the goals and ambitions of both you guys should be considered equally and a joint effort is needed to help each other reach success. You can not just do injustice to the other person by taking away all their money or even spending all your money on yourself and leaving your spouse.
Wanda Collins says
This is prudent advice for engaged couples. Sometimes engaged couples get so caught up in the relationship history of their intended spouses that they give little attention to the person’s financial history. Why their last boyfriend or girlfriend dumped them seems to take precedence over why they have more debt than savings. When in truth, it’s all relevant to the success of your marriage. If your intentions are to have a successful marriage built on honesty and trust, then the ten discussion points given in this post are a good place to start.
You can never go wrong having a real and personal talk about joint finances. For some it will work great, for spenders it maybe a burden.
If it’s a burden then that seems to be an indication of a problem. All the more reason to face up to it with your spouse.