{Advice} A Future Family & Finances


Are You Ready for Marriage?

Money and kids are two major facets of life, especially for couples who plan to marry and share the rest of their lives together. Have you and your spouse-to-be discussed your future family & finances at length? Are you ready? We have some great advice to think about as you step out of your single life and into your married life.

Joint Finances & Disclosure

In preparation for marriage, settling finances is paramount. Couples must be open about their financial histories and future monetary goals. Joining bank and credit card accounts should also be an in-depth topic of discussion before the big day. DailyFinance.com contributor Ross Kenneth Urken explains that for a married couple, separate accounts can diminish trust within the relationship, thus complicating the family budget and everyday spending. Urken strongly recommends that couples disclose any student load and credit card debt, income, assets and personal perspectives on money management.

Ask and honestly answer questions such as, "can I give up my financial independence?" "Am I hiding anything?" "Do we share the same opinions about major anticipated expenses?" Ultimately, Urken emphasizes that merging bank accounts can help "achieve both wedded and fiscal bliss." A unified, solid bank account signifies the "alliance of the marital bond." Free money management software offered by Mint.com helps monitor spending, set budgets and track goals. Mint also offers a mobile app for monitoring expenditures, tracking pending transactions and sticking to a budget, which serves beneficial for day-to-day financial decisions.

An often overlooked aspect of settling your finances prior to marriage is protecting and securing those documents as a new couple. MyID.com mentions that marriage licenses and certificates, confidential financial documents and credit reports are targets for expert identity thieves. Prevent devastating identity theft by storing documents in a safe place and never casually carrying them in your wallet. Before joining accounts, comb through credit reports to check for suspicious material and unauthorized purchases. Release personal financial information on the Internet with hesitation. Protection services offered by Lifelock help protect from credit card fraud and identity theft, which can alter you and your spouse's eligibility to apply for auto financing or a home mortgage.

Family & Children

Complementing a discussion about finances is a conversation about family. Both individuals must share the same familial desires as well as agree upon parenting techniques and the type of home environment to foster.

If you've both decided that children are in your future, communicate beyond that decision to avoid complications and a strained relationship down the road. Although you're in love and enjoying engagement bliss, ask and answer the following question with your fiance:
  • How many children do we want and can we financially support that number? 
  • How will religion, faith and spirituality play into raising a brood? 
  • How would we, as a team, handle having a child with a disability or illness? Is our relationship strong enough to overcome unexpected hardships, emotionally and financially? 
  • Will we both work full-time and use child care? Can we afford to be a single-income family? 
  • How will domestic duties be divided? Who will typically be responsible for what tasks to maintain the home? 
  • What will our parenting techniques be? What morals are most important? What will consequences for bad behavior entail? 
Naturally, parenthood won't follow every rule and expectation; however, establishing a solid foundation will ensure that you and your future partner healthily share the same path.

Submitted by Dale Harris - Los Angeles marriage counselor and life coach