Money and marriage. The topic isn't as romantic as the others that surround your wedding and soon-to-be newlywed life, but finances are something you and your significant other should talk about BEFORE you get married. Here are some questions engaged couples should ask about money to get the conversation rolling.
1. Are we combining our finances and accounts into one? This is usually a good question to kick off the discussion with. And it's a very personal one. Write out the pros and cons to each option and how it would look for your situation before making a decision. Talking to other married couples about what works for them is also a good idea. If you're keeping accounts separate, then you'll need to decide who pays what and who saves what.
2. How often do we want to have money meetings? Money meetings can be fun! Seriously. This is when you talk about your short term money goals (think saving for a vacation or a car down payment) and your long term goals (a house, kids' college, retirement, etc.). It's good to have this expectation moving into the marriage as to how often you'll sit down and talk about your cash money. But, definitely feel free to talk about daily spending, habits and bills on a much more frequent schedule.
3. Do you have any debt? You and your fiance may already know the answer to this one, but if not - let's get it out there! Are you bringing any student loans, car loans or even a mortgage into the marriage? Take a look at the debts you'll have and prioritize which ones you'll want to pay off first.
4. How much money can one another spend without letting the other know? Having a limit on which purchases require a prior conversation can ward off fights about money. This amount will be different for every couple, but having the number set in stone will help set some spending limits.
5. Do we have an emergency savings fund? If either of you are bringing savings into the marriage, awesome! If not, try and set $50-$100 a month aside into a fund for emergencies. Once you get to $1,000, re-evaluate what you want your savings goals to look like.
6. How are we going to handle the cost of kids? This can be a tricky one because you don't know what the future holds. But, if you're planning on having children, talk about everything from who will watch them (will one of you stay home or will you pay for childcare?) and how you'll pay for everything kids need. And if you have fertility struggles, will you go the route of IVF or adoption and how will you pay for that?
7. What are we going to do with any money we get from our wedding?
Many couples will walk away from their wedding with monetary gifts and it's good to have some ideas on what to do with that cash. Many couples have some extra wedding expenses to pay off or may need it to help fund their honeymoon. But try and set some aside to start investing for your future.
8. When do you want to retire? This may seem like soooo far in the future, but most 60 year olds will probably tell you - they wish they would have started saving for retirement earlier in life. Take advantage of your employer's 401k and talk with a trusted adviser about how you and your spouse can best save for the future.
If you're already discussed some or all of this with your partner - that's awesome! If not, schedule a session, maybe over coffee to make it more fun, and start talking money!