You're excited about reaching the next milestone in life — walking down the aisle! You and your spouse-to-be have set the date and picked a honeymoon destination, but have you talked about your financial checklist? Talking about money before you get married will save you headaches in the future. Get your marriage started on the right foot and check off these financial to-do's on your list!
Do you plan to combine your finances? For most couples, setting up joint bank accounts is a natural move once you get married. Discuss whether your want to combine all of your accounts or keep some separate. If you choose to keep accounts separate, talk about which fund will cover general expenses like groceries, mortgage, rent and utilities. Don't forget to alert your employer and bank of your new accounts, in case you prefer to directly deposit your paychecks.
Talk About Debt
Having a conversation about debt could be tricky, but keeping your spouse-to-be in the dark about a large credit card bill is a big no-no. Make a list of your liabilities, including student and car loans, credit card balances and any money you owe family or friends. Request reports from the credit agencies to learn your credit scores and any pending balances. Make a date to disclose all of your financial skeletons; you might hesitate at first, but better to do it now, so you are able to set up a plan to tackle how to pay it off.
Who's the saver and who likes to spend money? Knowing each other's financial goals will help you communicate better in the future. This is a great time to discuss whether you want a prenup if your philosophies don't match. Talk about how you plan to budget your day-to-day finances and what spending limit you want to set for individual purchases. It may mean you are willing to compromise on certain issues, but you won't know until you talk about it.
Protect your Identities
Changing names, combining finances and filling out paperwork will leave you vulnerable to identity thieves. Hackers are savvy about getting the information they need and before you know it, you have unauthorized charges on several of your credit cards. Be proactive and aware of identity theft.
Review Important Documents
You don't want to be a downer, but the truth is sometimes unexpected things happen. If you have a will, determine how you need to update it to include your spouse-to-be. For any other accounts, like a 401K plan, stocks and mutual funds, as well as bank accounts, decide your beneficiary designations. Do either of you have life insurance? If you plan to have kids or even if you don't, it is necessary to at least discuss how you want to approach this issue. It's not always the easiest conversation, but it is a part of acting financially responsible.
Set up times to talk about finances and revisit goals. For some couples, it might mean talking about it monthly; for others, a discussion every few months will work. Decide what works best for you and your marriage.
Celebrate your upcoming nuptials, but first, address your financial concerns. You want to keep smiling long after you walk down the aisle!