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Managing Your Money Before Marriage

You’ve found someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with and you’re ready to walk down the aisle. Congratulations! This is a special time in your life, one that is filled with love, romance, and planning. Yes, planning is a big part of marriage. Not only will you need to plan your engagement, your wedding, and your future together, but you’ll also need a plan for your money.

Finances aren’t the most romantic topic, but they’re certainly an important one. Sharing money and financial responsibilities with another person is difficult. The situation can be even more complex if one of you is a saver and the other is a spender, or if one (or both) of you have significant debt. However, if you talk about finances before your wedding, you’ll be in a better position when you walk down the aisle.

Before You Get Married

Before your wedding, there is a lot to do. However, don’t let the busyness of this time take away from the financial conversations and planning that needs to happen.

Talking About Money Before Marriage

Before you get married, make sure to talk about money. Yes, it isn’t romantic or sexy and, yes, these conversations can potentially be difficult, but talking about money now can help prevent fighting about money later.

  • Learn about each other’s financial past and present.
    • Don’t try to hide debts or bankruptcies from your partner. Not only will they find out eventually, but your current financial situation could affect your future (for example, if you want to get a mortgage one day) so it’s best to talk about these situations now.
  • Talk about your financial goals.
    • What does “financial success” mean for you? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? If one person wants to travel the world, retire early, or live in a mansion while the other wants to live on a smaller budget and be a stay-at-home parent, you’ll need to discuss how you’re going to work towards both of your goals.
  • Decide who will take the lead on budgeting and paying bills.
    • While both of you should be involved in the financial aspects of your life, in most couples, one person handles paying the bills and managing the money. This is mostly for convenience purposes (you don’t want to end up in a situation where both of you pay the phone bill each month – or where neither of you do!) but these situations can create conflict in a relationship, so talk about your plans now.
  • Discuss how you will handle your money once you’re married.
    • Will you keep your finances separate and divide you household expenses? Will you maintain separate bank accounts but also have a common account for common expenses? Or will you put everything together into one account?

Financial Plans Before Marriage

Before you get married, you’ll want to get your own finances in order.

  • Know how much you spend each month.
    • Track everything you spend in an average month and add it up. Create a budget that ensures you can afford all of your monthly expenses while also putting some money aside for emergency savings and retirement. If you have a better idea of your own finances before you get married, you’ll be less likely to struggle with sharing financial responsibilities with another person.
  • Create a plan for paying down your debt.
    • If you have debt, do you have a plan for paying it down? Before you get married, make sure you have a plan for reducing your debt with the ultimate goal of becoming debt free.
  • Share your budget and debt-reduction plan with your partner.
    • Before you get married, share your plans with your partner and ask to see the same plans from them. Not only does this get everything out in the open, but having plans will make it easier for both of you to reach your financial goals.

Managing money and struggling with finances is one of the most common reasons couples fight. Everyone spends money differently, everyone saves differently, and everyone has different financial goals. By communicating openly and sharing your plans and goals before you get married, you’ll be in a much better position to have financial and marital success going forward.