by Kenny Pugh – Black Enterprise
(Originally Posted on Nov. 5, 2013)
The subject of love and money used to be an area of focus people wanted to ignore. However, with an increase in divorces citing finances as the primary reason, more and more people are now paying closer attention to finances prior to marriage.
Chemistry and compatibility extend far beyond the physical interaction you have with your special someone. If you are exploring the topic of marriage with your significant other, be sure to discuss the topic of money prior to saying “I do” in order to get a better understanding of what financial picture lies ahead.
Here are five “must-ask” financial questions before tying the knot:
- How much debt do you have? This is an important topic to discuss because it provides a snapshot of how your money will be allocated during marriage (at least early on). When debt is brought into a marriage it changes how much can be spent, invested, and shared. And just in case you’re wondering, $125,000 in student loans, $2,500 per month in child support, and $60,000 in credit card debt are things your significant other should know about prior to saying “I do!”
- Do you believe in joint or separate bank accounts? This is a decision that needs to be discussed upfront so it doesn’t cause a messy distraction later on. Some couples choose to manage their household finance like roommates, where each is responsible for specific household expenses and pay from separate accounts. Others decide to pool their money together and manage monthly expenses from a joint account. Ultimately, you have to determine what makes the most sense for your relationship.
- What are your credit scores? Credit scoring is becoming more and more important in relationships and marriage. Imagine wanting to purchase your dream home only to learn that your spouse’s credit won’t afford you the opportunity to do so? Or learning that you have to put major purchases in your name to avoid paying double-digit interest rates? Fortunately, your credit scores can be improved over time and with discipline. However, it’s a great idea to share your credit scores prior to marriage so you can begin the rebuilding process.
- How do you currently manage your money? If a person doesn’t responsibly manage their money as a single individual, there’s a high probability he or she won’t do so in marriage. If budgeting is important to you, then you need to have the discussion. Get your future spouse to understand the importance of budgeting and agree to participate.
- Are you bringing assets into the marriage? Statistics show us that many Americans are waiting until later in life to get married. Because of this fact, individuals are coming into marriage with more assets than in years past. Assets are important to discuss so there aren’t any misunderstandings on how the assets will be joined together or accessed by the spouse after marriage.
The purpose of discussing money isn’t to ruin the love of your life. It is meant to help two people work through a very important area that is often neglected. When the money discussion is neglected it can wreak havoc on a marriage. As you prepare for your big day, be sure to include a financial planner.