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How to Talk Money Before You Tie the Knot

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Maria Neira
November 6, 2017

Getting married is arguably the biggest emotional decision we make in our lifetime. You share everything with the person you love—your hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, fantasies, and more. It's also one of the biggest financial decisions we make. Will you share a bank account? Combine car insurance? Contribute to retirement funds together? 

When couples fight, money is almost always a primary or secondary cause. Use these shortcuts to help kick-start a productive discussion about the role that money will play in your relationship. 

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Spill your financial guts

If there’s anything that you’ve been keeping from your partner—a bad credit score, some secret debt that you were too ashamed to mention, or maybe a car loan that you defaulted on years ago—now’s the time to discuss it. Waiting until you’re married to blindside your partner with your financial status is poor form and will likely cause hostility down the road. Your partner deserves to know how much you earn, how much of that money is already spoken for, and how much will be available to go toward your new family’s expenses.

Hash out shared goals (and how much those goals will cost)

You might assume that, at this point in your relationship, you know everything there is to know about your future spouse. But marriage – and even the wedding – will bring new things to light. For example, how much do you want to spend on the wedding? Do you plan to buy a house soon after you’re married? Are you ready to have children? Have you begun saving for retirement? Do you plan to open an education IRA for your child’s future college tuition? Discussing these giant financial decisions ahead of time will make them feel less overwhelming.

Reel in your spouse’s spending now or you never will

Feel a nagging suspicion that your partner is spending beyond your shared means? Do you worry that his or her expensive taste will sink your fortune before you get started building it? Don’t keep these thoughts to yourself. If your partner believes you’re OK with the way he or she spends money, the habit will be much harder to break once you tie the knot.

Talking about money is never fun, and it can be a nerve-wracking subject to broach—even with the one you love. But it’s critical that you get the ‘money talk’ out of the way now. Otherwise, you could be squeezed out of your finances for the long haul.