7 Financial Questions to Ask Before Marriage
Of course, the biggest question prior to marriage is: Do you love each other and want to spend the rest of your life together? But once the resounding answer is yes, it’s a good idea to make sure that your expectations and goals line up with your partner. And while finances can feel awkward to discuss, getting on the same page now can mean fewer potential fights in the future. Here are 7 questions to discuss with your partner before you walk down the aisle.
What is your current debt situation?
While “debt” may feel awkward to bring up on a date, it’s important to discuss before you combine your lives. Even if you plan to keep finances separate, debt will have an impact on shared financial moves, such as purchasing a house. Talking through the amount of debt you owe and any plans to pay it back can be a good way to assess paths for getting out of debt. If one of you is in a significant amount of debt, it may make sense to keep future accounts separate so at least one person in the partnership has a good credit score, making it easier to be approved for financial commitments like apartment rentals.
What are our financial goals?
Is it your goal to own a house together? What about potentially having children? Having a discussion about what you both want out of life — and how you’ll pay for those goals — can help you both get on the same financial footing. While you may not be ready to buy a house just yet, knowing that you hope to buy one in the next five years can help you make smart financial decisions now. For instance, maybe that means moving in with relatives or moving into a small one-bedroom apartment now, so you can save money for a down payment for the future or working together to improve your credit scores as a team.
What will our approach be to shared finances?
As long as open communication is happening, there’s no “wrong” answer here. Discussing this question can ensure that there aren’t any misunderstandings once you get married. Some couples decide to keep finances entirely separate, with a different partner “in charge” of different financial obligations, like rent or cable bills. Others have a yours, mine, and ours approach, where each partner has a separate account, while sharing a joint account for mutual expenses, like rent. Others decide to pool all finances in one account. Talking through potential pros and cons of each strategy can help you decide on the best decision for your needs. Remember: You can always change your strategy. For example, it may make sense to keep separate accounts in early marriage, then create a joint account as you accrue mutual expenses.
Are we protected in case the worst were to happen?
When it comes to securing a future together, it’s important to think of worst-case “what if” scenarios. If you were to get ill, do you have insurance in place? What if the home you share were to have water or fire damage? And what would happen if either of you were to die? Considering all types of insurance, from health insurance (if you don’t already have it) to renter’s insurance to life insurance can help ensure that both of you are financially protected if the worst-case happens.
How were finances handled in your family?
Ever heard the adage history repeats itself? This statement rings true when it comes to finances. How your parents dealt with debt, salaries, and bills are the blueprint for how you will approach the same issues. Talking with your partner about financial stressors in your families can help you figure out where you two may want to do better. It can also be a way start talking about finances with each other.
What’s our financial strategy?
Some couples develop a mutual budget, either on their own or through a financial app. Other couples have regular financial conversations once a week or once a month where they look over their monthly expenses and come up with plans for covering everything. Having some sort of system in place — even if the system changes — ensures that finance is a topic both of you regularly bring to the table.
What’s our plan in case we get into financial trouble?
Financial troubles are part of life. But deciding how you’ll handle them — for example, by being forthright about bills and coming up with solutions together — can give you a strategy and solution-focused plan. Knowing your options can eliminate additional stress if a challenge ever occurs.
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