Important Financial Discussions to have Before Marriage

by News Guy on May 31, 2010

Financial problems have long been a trouble area in many marriages and the current economic crisis is stretching even more people to the emotional breaking point. The resulting frustration can certainly take a toll on marriages, which is why it’s important to have financial discussions before walking down the aisle. Practitioner, Financial Planner Julie Murphy Casserly, CLU, ChFC, CFP, describes the top conversations you should have with your soon-to-be spouse to be sure you are on the same page financially.

Discuss and Be Honest About Debt Levels: When you marry someone, you also marry their money and their debt.  Everyone brings financial baggage into a relationship but it’s important that each of you disclose exactly how much debt you are carrying so you can develop a picture of your financial responsibilities after marriage. It’s also not a good idea to hide some of your debt from your future spouse. As the old adage goes, “it’s never good to start a marriage on a lie” and it will just create negative energy between the two of you once the secret is out.

Examine your credit scores: If one person’s score is below 700, consider keeping your finances separate for awhile until you can work to improve the score. Work as a couple to help the person with the low credit score pay off debt and take care of overdue bills. Do not apply for any joint credit cards. Instead, put the cards in the name of the person with good credit and make the other person an authorized user.

Set Goals Together: It’s important that you both have a clear vision of your financial goals so you can help each other achieve them, or talk about the differences before trouble starts. Create a complete picture of your financial situation in the following three areas. It is easier to stay on track when you understand your full financial situation.

  • Past – Review and discuss all of your past choices and work to pay them down now.
  • Present – Review your current monthly bills and purchases and set a budget that fits into your allotted incomes.  Try to live the quality of life you want today on a cash basis, not a credit basis.
  • Future – Plan for your short-term, mid-term and long-term financial goals and make them a priority.  Enlist the help of a financial planner who can help you set up savings and investment accounts that will help you reach all of your life goals.

Make Choices for Two: Once you have created your complete financial picture, make sure you agree that you will both clear a space in your life to obtain these goals and make life choices that align accordingly.

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