Millions of Americans get married each year. Unfortunately, many of them give little thought to financial issues or what they should discuss prior to marriage. Although pre-marital counseling can help, one of the best ways to reduce the chance for divorce is to discuss the right financial questions prior to marriage.
Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “I have heard that one of the most common arguments that couples have is over money. This is definitely true for my spouse and me. My daughter is getting married in a few months and I want to make sure she and her husband have discussed all the important financial questions. Do you have any suggestions about what financial questions they should discuss to reduce their risk of divorce?”
Financial questions to discuss prior to marriage
- What are your long-term financial goals?
Most of us make the mistake of assuming that our way is the right way. We want two kids, a two car garage, and a secure job. Why wouldn’t our spouse want that too? Assumptions and expectations in marriage, however, only lead to disappointment and misunderstanding.
Before you are married one of the first financial questions to ask your fiancé is to identify their long-term goals. Do they value security over risk? Do they want to have an established career before they have kids? Do they want to live in the same location or move around? What does their ideal life together look like?
Some couples may choose to sit down and make a list of the goals that each person wants to accomplish.
- What debt and income do they currently have?
The second financial question to ask your fiancé is whether they have significant amounts of debt and sufficient income. Nothing puts a damper on romance more than a $50,000 credit card bill that you didn’t know about. Talk to future your spouse. Discuss how much money you want to spend each month and put together a budget.
If your fiancé loves to spend money and you are a saver, this could signal difficulties in the future. While marriage is always about compromise, finding someone that has the same spending and saving habits can be marriage gold.
- Who will manage the finances?
Gone are the days where men managed all the money and the women were given an allowance. Now, couples have the freedom to negotiate a plan that works for both of them. For this to work, however, both spouses have to be on the same page and understand who is responsible for what. Maybe the husband pays the bills, maybe not. It really does not matter as long as both spouses agree, and they have a plan.
- What are your credit scores?
Finally, one of the last financial questions to ask your fiancé is whether or not they have good credit. It may not be sexy to swap credit scores but having a spouse with a low credit score may eliminate your ability to get the home or car you want. It can also eliminate your ability to get competitive interest rates on loans.
Asking the right financial questions before the marriage is key to reducing the chance for divorce later.
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