When Cupid's arrow hits you and love is in the air, the logistics of marriage (including the finances) may be easily overlooked. Although talking about money-related topics openly can be uncomfortable, it's vital to have money conversations before you commit to someone forever.
You don't want to find out after it's too late that you and your spouse don't share the same money mindset or financial goals. So ask these questions before walking down the aisle:
What are your income and career goals?
Opposites may attract in the honeymoon stage, but it takes more than attraction to get you through forever together. The less romantic aspects of the relationship like career and income goals deserve your attention. Understanding how each of you values money and career growth is necessary for both sides to avoid disappointment.
For example, if you are ambitious and income-driven, you may grow resentful of a partner who is family oriented and disinterested in career advancement. On the other hand, your partner may become dissatisfied if you're spending long nights at the office and missing out on family memories.
Now: Two people can find balance in differences and make it work. However, both parties should have realistic expectations of what the other will bring into a relationship financially and emotionally before walking down the aisle.
[See: 10 Money Leaks to Shut Down Now.]
What's your credit score?
Your ability to qualify for credit, a mortgage, an auto loan and more relies on your credit score. Knowing where your partner stands shows you how responsible he or she is with debt and if you'll be able to qualify for loans and credit as a couple in the future.
Like most financial topics, asking someone their credit score over drinks may be a bit forward for the first date. When marriage talks enter the equation, this is a necessary conversation to have. If your partner has a less-than-perfect score, it's not the end of the world. With this knowledge, you can devise a plan to rebuild credit together.
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How much debt do you have?
Student loan debt is at $1.2 trillion and growing, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Over 40 million Americans are in the process of repaying these loans, so dating someone with debt is probably not a deal breaker for most. If it were, the dating scene would be slim pickings.
What you need to know is the amount of debt your partner has and his or her debt-repayment plan. If you have no debt and prefer to keep it that way, a partner who uses debt on top of student loans to support a lifestyle may not be a good match.
[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]
How much do you have in savings?
Savings can be another pressure point in a marriage. Bad money habits are hard to break. If your partner has difficulty saving money, it's going to be a struggle for you to build a rainy day fund.
As a married couple, you'll want to buy a home, start a family, maybe pay for your children's education, take trips and enjoy life; all of this requires savings discipline. Ask how much your partner has in savings and how much he or she puts away each month. You need to know if you're committing to a spender or saver.
What's your vision for retirement?
Even if you're young, retirement age will sneak up on you. Don't put off this conversation. After all, you'll be working together with your spouse to turn your retirement dreams into a reality for the next few decades, so you may as well put a strategy in motion.
Does your partner contribute to a 401(k) or have an investment account outside of work? If so, ask how much he or she is setting aside. Then, figure out if what you're both saving puts you on track to save enough for the lifestyle you want in retirement.
Nobody is perfect. You may fall in love with someone who doesn't check every one of the boxes on your financial "perfect match" checklist. If that's the case, open the lines of communication to discuss each other's values and what you need to work on financially as a couple. Having the uncomfortable conversations now can help you avoid irreconcilable money conflicts once you're married.
Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report
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