When we start seriously looking for our forever person in our 20s we always know exactly what we want. I know that I’ve daydreamed about the kind of person I wanted to be with long-term (psst… I think I found him). I knew I wanted someone who was smart, funny, silly, and kind but until recently I never really thought about what I wanted in someone when it came to money.
Thankfully, my significant other and I are on the same page when it comes to money and I seriously just think I got lucky. For most couples, money becomes a serious issue in their relationship because it isn’t something they discuss before they decide that they’ll be together forever.
Chances are you’ve met a couple that has had money issues and you’ve probably seen a divorce or two go down because of money differences and fights. It’s something that can be prevented if you have the right conversations before these topics become fights.
Let’s discuss the 5 money conversations that I believe to be the most important to have before committing to your forever person.
4 Money Conversations You Must Have Before Marriage
Your Current Debt & Income
If you ever plan to get married to another person, you’re going to end up taking on some of their debt. When you’re married your financial situations become one, which can be great for the person with a bunch of debt and awful for the person who has none. This is why it’s so important to start talking about money even before you’re engaged!
You want to be completely transparent with your significant other about everything. You should discuss your student loans, your credit card debt, and any other negative balances you have that will need to be dealt with before you can start really making progress financially.
You should discuss actual balances, not just a general idea because total transparency is so important if you want your relationship to last forever. It’s also smart to talk about plans you have to actually pay it back. Will you pick up a second job? That could really affect your relationship. Will you go scorched earth and have no life until it’s all paid off? These are all things that must be discussed with your partner.
This is also a great time to bring up how much money you make or how much money you will be making in a few years. If you have an idea of where your income will be you can have a better idea of where you can be in a few years.
This conversation can honestly be more nervewracking than the first time you see your partner naked because it makes you just as vulnerable. Don’t know where to start? It’s a great idea to start by giving up your information.
A great thing to do is to start a conversation with “So, I just made my student loan payment of X dollars and have X dollars left. Can’t wait until it’s all over! How much debt do you have?” This will show your partner that you’re serious about talking about this topic and will start to really open them up to the idea.
Once you do decide to have this conversation you can really use what you learn to help you make decisions about the relationship. If your s/o has $25,000 in student loans, no big deal, at least they got an education out of it. If they have $25,000 in credit card debt, you should probably figure out what is going on there. Consumer debt can be scary because that often means that they aren’t very smart with their money or they have an impulse problem.
This isn’t a time to lie to your partner. You shouldn’t feel like you have to be perfect or even close to perfect. Just be open and honest and don’t hold back.
It’s so much easier to make a plan and stick to it with your partner if you share the same goals. Where do you want to live? When do you want to retire? There are so many small things that can affect your finances that most people don’t think to discuss.
I find that the biggest thing people don’t discuss is retirement. What if you end up marrying someone who wants to work until they’re 80 but your plan is to retire early and start travelling? That might cause a few problems down the road.
You may be willing to make certain sacrifices for a goal that both of you want but your s/o might not be willing to do the same things. You should know your limits and work within them.
You really want to make sure that your goals and your plans for the future align so there aren’t any surprises when you’re married with children!
What things can be included in your goals conversation?
- how often you’ll go on vacations
- what city you’ll live in
- what type of house you want to live in
- how you’ll save for retirement
- when you want to retire
Babies? Children? Kiddos?
Most people would probably add having children in the financial goals conversation, but I think that this is a totally different conversation to have. Obviously, before you get married you should discuss if you’re going to have a family.
When it comes to children and finances there are a bunch of discussions to be had as well. How you handle your children and money can be a huge problem for a couple if it isn’t discussed.
The first discussion you should have is when you should have children. It’s a lot harder to have children when you have tons of debt because you don’t have as much money to take care of them.
Do you want to be completely debt free before you have children? Or at least have your consumer and student debt tackled? What is your financial plan to pay for the children? They get expensive!
How/If You’ll Combine Your Finances
Combining your finances used to be the norm because for so long women weren’t allowed to have their own bank accounts. We’d go from our dads to our husbands and there was never really another option. Now we have tons of options and are able to go our entire lives without combining money if we don’t want to.
Combining your finances can be really complicated if you haven’t discussed it first. Thankfully, we live in a time where if you don’t want to entirely combine your finances you don’t have to.
A great way to partially combine your finances is to have your separate bank accounts as well as one joint account where you transfer money for house payments, groceries, and anything else you need as a couple/family. This way you both still have entire control over your own money and you don’t need to ask permission to do fun things!