Time for 'the talk' with your betrothed


If June is marriage month, perhaps May should be called 'clearing the decks for marriage' month. Distasteful as many find money talk, taking the time to plan your post-nuptual finances can help you avoid one of the most common sources of newlywed stress.

To guide such a conversation, here are a some topics that you might address--

1. Where you stand. What are your current debts? Savings? You might both request and share credit reports so that you can get a sense of your borrowing power (and any roadblocks that might have been 'overlooked').

2. How you plan to handle money. Who pays bills? Will you combine accounts or maintain separate ones? (My wife and I have always maintained separate accounts so that she has her own established credit history. Too many widows of marriages in which all finances were done in the husband's name have found themselves identitiless in the financial world after his death.) How about debts incurred when single? How does each get spending money? Are you comfortable with self-imposed allowances?

3. Future aspirations. How will you fund savings? Retirement accounts? Travel? Medical costs? Obligation to take care of Mom and Dad? Buying a home? Kids? How soon? How comfortable are you with debt? What are your income expectations? What are your financial red flags?

May is not too soon to have 'the talk', the one about money. June is too late, for sure. And waiting until July is a big, big gamble.