It's wedding season, and planning and preparing for the big day comes with excitement, not to mention arguments and compromise -- often about money. Many couples spend lots of dollars and hours securing just the right caterer, venue, and honeymoon location.
But if planning the merger of two lives is no small feat, it's also important to plan for what your financial lives will look like after the honeymoon is over -- and that's something you'll want to get to before the I do's.
By implementing these three nuggets of pre-wedding financial advice, you'll keep the marital arguments to a minimum and the newlywed bliss alive and well.
1. Honestly Discuss Your Financial Pasts.
The goal of this discussion is to truthfully disclose everything. Tell your significant other about your income, assets, and all of your debts. This is the time to air your financial secrets. Be careful to avoid letting it devolve into a lecture (or argument) about whose money management methods are better.
Use these conversations to listen without judgment, learn more about each other, and connect with your betrothed. No decisions have to be made about how to handle any of these issues. Right now, it's more important to disclose your past and understand your partner's, and open up the lines of communication, not shut them down.
2. Talk About What Type of Person You Are When It Comes to Money.
It's likely that one of you is more of a spender, the other more of a saver. If so, These "permitter" and "restricter" archetypes will reappear hundreds, maybe thousands, of times over the course of your marriage. For a more harmonious union, both partners will have to compromise when it comes to money matters. Through that compromise, you'll be able to develop a game plan for how much to save, how much to spend, and how much to contribute toward goals like buying a home and securing your retirements.
3. Craft a Road Map.
Talk about your financial goals. Discuss how you'll construct, manage, and monitor your household budget. Determine if you want to commingle your assets and incomes or keep them separate.
Many couples choose to keep individual accounts and create one joint account for shared household expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. Other couples commingle all of their income and have separate "fun money" accounts where they receive a certain monthly "allowance," say, $100 per month, to save or spend however they'd like.
Strongly consider a premarital agreement (a prenuptial contract), especially if one partner is coming to the marriage with significant assets or debts. Even though this can be an awkward discussion to have with your betrothed, a mutually agreed-upon plan will squash any misunderstandings or nasty situations later on. Have the agreement drafted by a lawyer, sign it, put it away, and hope you never have to use it.
Congratulations Are in Order
Having these conversations before you walk down the aisle will make life much easier once you're married. So carve out the time to focus on your finances now. It certainly isn't as exciting as planning your honeymoon, but your marriage will be so much better off for it.
(And after you tie the knot, come back to check out these 5 Smart Money Moves for Newlyweds.)