5 Money Conversations for Marriage
Your wedding day is approaching, and you and your partner have a lot to talk about. And while you're planning the ceremony, the reception, and your honeymoon, it's also a good idea to talk about money and your financial plans. As a married couple, you'll spend and save money together as a team and by taking the time to talk through your financial expectations now, you will be laying a solid foundation for the future.
Here are some of the essential money conversations for marriage:
1. Setting a Monthly Budget
Talk about what you want your monthly budget to look like. Some items like rent and utilities might already be determined if you've found a place to live. If you're still looking, decide on your price range. Figure out how much you need to set aside for health insurance, paying off debt, and retirement savings. And finally, talk about discretionary spending. How much will you spend on entertainment and vacations? How often will you order out?
2. Saving for Major Milestones
You may be looking forward to some changes in your life together, like buying a bigger house and having kids. Talk about how those changes might affect your budget and how you can start preparing for them. For example, you might want to begin investing $100 a month in an educational savings account to get a head start on your kids' college fund.
3. Looking at Assets and Debts
There should be open communication about any debts that are brought into the marriage so that there are no surprises when it's time to make payments or when you apply for a loan together. If any previous debts have affected your credit history, talk about those too. And don't forget to look at any assets you own and talk about how you want to put those assets to use together. For example, you might want to move money from a low-interest account to an account with a higher rate of return so that you can build up a down payment for a home. Or, you might trade in your partner's car for a minivan that will be spacious enough for your future family.
4. Making Spending Decisions
You probably want your partner to check with you before making a large purchase, and you'll want to get your partner's input before you spend on any big items. But how big is big? It could be a few hundred dollars, a thousand dollars, or more — it's up to each couple to decide for themselves. Talk to your partner about where you'll draw the line between the everyday spending you do as individuals and special purchases you'll decide on together.
5. Planning for Your Home
Sharing your home with your partner comes with a few financial decisions for the two of you to make. For example, it's a good idea to talk about expectations for maintaining your property. Will you mow the lawn and take care of the garden yourselves, or will you hire landscapers? How often do you want to buy new appliances, and what price range do you have in mind? You should also think about improvements you want to make. For example, you may decide to improve your home's energy efficiency, finish a basement or attic, or add a deck or patio. Talk about your timeline for these projects and discuss whether you should start saving up or investigate loan options.
Talking about money will help you and your partner plan for your life together and bring you closer to your financial goals.