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How to Talk About Money Before Marriage

The first thing you should talk about before marriage is money! These tips for engaged couples and finances will help you figure out your finances before you walk down the aisle.

You need to discuss your financial goals before you get married.

“Should we marry our money before we say ‘I do’?” is a common question for engaged couples. Here’s financial advice from The Money Couple:

“You absolutely should not mix money before marriage!” say Scott and Bethany Palmer, financial experts and authors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication. “Don’t marry your money until you are legally married. We have seen too many engagements end, leaving couples who have combined their money with the painful task of sorting it all out during an already difficult time.”

To get started on your financial goals as husband and wife, read The Couple’s Guide to Love & Money.

And, here are The Money Couple’s tips for figuring out your finances for engaged couples…

Finances for Engaged Couples – Money Before Marriage

If you’re planning a marriage proposal or a wedding, you probably already share your money. Here, the Money Couple is talking about financial issues such as joint savings accounts, shared credit cards, retirement funds, and checkbooks. Combining these finances before you’ve created a legal union can create headaches you simply don’t need.

But just because you’re not sharing all your money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking about it. We believe that strong financial communication has to start before you get married – hopefully before you even get engaged. If you are engaged or seriously dating someone and thinking about co-mingling your money, plan a Money Huddle and talk about the six topics that will save your marriage before it has begun…

Learn about your money personalities

If you don’t know your money personalities (who is the spender? who is the saver?), find out what they are. Understanding how each of you thinks about and deals with money is the foundation of healthy financial communication. And if you can’t communicate about money, you have a long, painful future ahead of you. So find out who you are, talk through how you are difference from each other, and think about how you will compromise when the inevitable conflicts come up. If you do nothing else, do this.

If you tend to worry about money, talk about your financial stress before you get married.

Make a plan to pay off your debt, if either of you owe money to creditors

There is no substitute for an honest conversation about paying off your debt. If you’re in debt, tell your partner about it. Figure out how the two of you will pay it off. How will that debt impact your finances for the next few years? How can you work together to manage the debt? Figuring out your finances for engaged couples involves being honest and real.

Figure out your combined financial incomes

Get a realistic picture of the present and the future money goals by talking about how much you each earn now. It’s amazing how many people don’t really know what their spouses get paid! Knowing your fiancé’s salary or wage will help you make plans for the first few years of your life together, it helps prevent financial problems from causing problems in your marriage.

Calculate your monthly expenses

Do you have a car payment? A gym membership? Medical expenses? Loan payments? Hopefully, you know how much money you spend each – and if you don’t, then before you get married is a perfect time to figure out your expenses! You should both think through every regular expense you have and write it down. Combine those totals to get an idea of how much you’ll spend as a couple and compare it to your joint income. How does it look? If you have some wiggle room, great. If you are spending way more than you’re earning, you know you’ll have some budget decisions to make once you start your life together.

Talk about saving money before you get married

Whether you have $100 in savings or $100,000, you need to talk with your fiancé about what you have and what you’re saving for. Talk about more than just the amount you’ve saved – talk about how you got it there. How important is it to you to have money in savings? What kind of sacrifices have you made to put money away? What investments do you have-or hope to have? Planning for your financial future – retirement, college funds, vacation or emergency money- will be an ongoing conversation in your love relationship. You might as well combine money and marriage now!

Discuss your financial goals and expectations as a married couple

You’ve probably had lots of dreamy conversations about your life together. But have you included the “how-we’re-going-to-pay-for-this” part? Probably not. Eventually, engaged couples who are planning their wedding need to talk realistically about their vision for their future. Engaged couples also need to talk about the implications that vision has for their finances. Is this a romantic thing for engaged couples to do? Not really. Is it necessary? Yes! When you’re talking about money and marriage, cover everything. Do you want to own a house? How soon? Do you see yourselves living in a specific part of the country? What will that mean for your finances? How do you think children will change your financial picture? Will one of you want to stay home and raise kids? Do you see yourself changing careers? Going back to school?

Figuring out the finances before planning a wedding will help engaged couples achieve their financial goals after their married – which can help create a happy marriage!

For more money tips, read First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication.

Are you struggling with your relationship? Get free help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.

Take a break from talking about money before marriage. Read 10 Fun Games for Couples. And if you have any thoughts about money, engaged couples, and getting married, please comment below…

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6 thoughts on “How to Talk About Money Before Marriage”

  1. Kathryn, I completely missed your question about saving money before marriage!

    Even though it’s probably too late, I wrote this article for you:

    When You Can’t Save Money – 5 Tips for Engaged Couples

    If it doesn’t help you, I hope it’ll help other engaged couples cope with their fiances!

  2. No, I don’t think you’re responsible for your fiance’s medical bills before you get married. But I think it would be a really good idea to get this in writing first – a premarital contract. I know it’s awkward and embarrassing to ask a guy you love to put financial issues in writing, but it’s so important to protect yourself. Money and marriage don’t mix when you both have debt and financial baggage.

  3. When my fiance and I get married, am I responsible for any of hisprevious medical bills? He is a ransplant on disability.

  4. Hi Laurie, it just so happens that your article is te first of it’s kind that I’ve come across while looking for guidance! My fiance and I dated long distance fpr 3 years before getting engaged 4 months ago. I moved to his state and we decided that we would begin combining our incomes now. W share a desire to save, and want to be ready to pay some of te bigger expenses that come with marriage like our wedding, house, ect.. The problem we are fcing is being 4 months into our combined incomes and have no money saved yet! It baffles me! We have tried cutting down our spending but still end the month with no excess… What would you advise we do to more effectively build our nest egg?

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Martha. I really believe that the sooner engaged couples talk about money, the better! Financial communication is soooo important, especially if you have different money personalities.

  6. Great post! Really good insight. It’s always difficult to discuss finances and share money in relationships. Thanks for your advice. Thanks for the post! I’d like to see more like it.