to Consider before Saying "I Do"
Perhaps you’re engaged and thinking about the future with your significant other. You’re both filled with high expectations, enthusiasm, and a desire to work hard toward a common goal—but, not everything always goes according to plan. Finances can be a huge stressor in a relationship, so it’s important that you dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and go over all the necessary financial-related questions before saying “I do.”
Current Financial Situation
It’s important to have an understanding of someone's financial status before committing to such a serious venture together. How your partner manages their money can tell you a lot about which path your future could take in terms of finances. Although it might be awkward to ask about financial matters, knowing whether they are buried under payments could help prepare you for what’s to come.
Someone who has an extremely low credit score, unreasonable debt to income ratio, or is obviously living beyond their means is something to take into consideration before combining finances.
Decide on Joint or Separate Accounts
One of the hardest decisions for new couples is to decide on whether they should separate or combine finances. While joint accounts may promote trust and keep couples talking about their money, separate accounts allow for each partner’s financial independence. This may be particularly helpful to people who marry later in life and are used to only keeping track of their own money. Separate checking accounts may also lead to more harmony in a marriage if each spouse doesn't feel as if he or she has to justify their purchases.
A couple who earns money together may keep a joint account for household spending or shared savings goals. If accounts are joined, it’s especially important that couple’s converse and stay on the same page when it comes to finances.
Split up the Financial Roles
Just like deciding who should clean the toilet and take out the trash, it’s important to decide who should pay the bills and keep up with the accounts. Will you split up these roles or tackle them together? No matter what you decide, a financial advisor can help you along the way if needed.
What if it Doesn’t Work Out?
Most people don’t envision rough times ahead, but you need to prepare for that scenario and have a document as part of your agreement that outlines what will happen with your money. The best time to address this is before marriage.
Prenuptial agreements may not be what you want to think about before a marriage, but they could save you when it comes to finances. These agreements are typically useful when one or both partners have substantial assets, an expected inheritance, family wealth or a business.
It can be great to share everything with your partner. Just make sure you do the paperwork and have the appropriate discussions up front to assure that your financial future will go as smoothly as it can.