First comes love, then comes marriage. And, at some point between those two events, you need to have a serious talk with your future spouse about your financial plans.
Maybe you’ve already discussed financial topics like what you make, how much debt you have, and your individual spending habits. However, as you prepare to take this next step together, you’ll be faced with a much bigger question: How will you manage money as a couple?
Answering that one might take some time, but we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll share 5 tips that’ll help make financial conversations with your future spouse fruitful.
Focus on open and honest discussion
You’ve heard it before – communication is key to making any relationship work. That includes open communication about your finances, as well!
When you’re discussing finances with your future spouse, nothing should be left off the table. The spending habit you’ve been trying to get under control, the next financial goal you’re reaching for, that debt you’ve been meaning to pay off… all of it. You’re building a financial plan together, and starting from a strong, honest foundation is crucial.
With that said, finances can be an emotional topic. Before diving in, it’s helpful to reassure your partner that there will be no judgment or shaming on your end. Whatever difficulties arise, you’re ready to tackle them together.
Start the conversation early and work together
We all have our own mindsets about money, like how it should be spent, when it should be saved, and where it should be invested. By beginning the conversation early, you’ll have time to calibrate your mindsets and find a financial plan you’re both happy with.
Reaching that happy medium might be a challenge, but remember – you’re on the same team now. Sitting down to build your budget together is a great place to begin these (sometimes difficult) talks.
Pro tip: Prepare yourself by making a list of points you want to include in your joint plan. In the middle of a long discussion, it’s easy to forget what you wanted to say or leave out important details. Creating a list of your thoughts beforehand ensures you’ll cover every topic you plan to.
Agree on how to manage your finances
Like our unique money mindsets, we also have unique expectations of what each person in a relationship provides. To avoid mismatched expectations, make sure to honestly explain what you expect. Consider questions like:
- Will you manage your own separate accounts, create a joint one, or a combination of the two?
- Will you split the bills evenly or each focus on a certain set of expenses?
- Will you help pay off each other’s debt once you’re married or continue handling it yourselves?
- How much do you plan to spend on your wedding, and how will you pay for it?
The answers to these questions will depend on your relationship, preferences, and what each of you can contribute financially.
For example: Maybe your partner is working towards their degree, so you’re handling the bulk of expenses until they graduate. Maybe your future spouse makes more money than you, so they handle the rent and utilities while you cover groceries.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. By expressing your expectations honestly, you can find a management approach that suits both of your individual strengths and needs.
Keep the conversation going
Although your lives will inevitably get busier after marriage, your plan isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of deal – you’ll want to make updates as your situation evolves over time.
The start of a new job. Saving for a home. The birth of your first child. All of these life events will impact your financial plan in some way. Reassess often to keep your goals aligned.
Pro tip: It’ll take some experimenting to find the right cadence for financial talks, but frequency is key! A study shows that that those who say they have a “great” marriage are nearly twice as likely to talk about money daily or weekly compared to those who say their marriage is “okay” or “in crisis.”
While you and your partner will continue growing as individuals, you’re building a life together. Your wants, needs, and mindsets will change over time, so a little give and take will be necessary.
Not to mention, life has a funny way of throwing us on a course we could’ve never expected. Keep your plan flexible, and you’ll be much more likely to leverage the opportunities that come your (and your future spouse’s) way.