Marriage and Money
Jan 31, 2019 | 5 min. read
Before you commit to “for richer or for poorer,” you and your partner should have “the talk.”
If you’re engaged, chances are you and your partner have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out what your future together will look like – and for good reason. Since everyday decisions, like where you want to live or what you’re eating for dinner, now involve another person, marriage often marks a pretty drastic life transition: joining your life with another person’s. But this doesn’t just include how or where you spend your time, because marriage is more than a social union. It’s also an economic one. So before you stand up and make the commitment to stay together “for richer or for poorer,” take some time to figure out what that actually looks like. In case you need some help getting the conversation started, here are some questions to ask each other.
How’s your financial health?
Whether you decide to merge your finances or keep a portion of them separate, your own financial history will likely affect your partner – and vice versa. No, you aren’t automatically entitled to all your spouse’s assets or obligated to pay off their debt. But if that debt also comes with a low credit score, it could impact what interest rate you’ll be able to get on a car loan or mortgage. That’s why it’s so important to put all of your “financial cards” on the table right at the beginning: it’ll help you set reasonable expectations for what goals you’re able to reach – and when.
Who pays the bills?
If both of you plan on working, you might consider splitting the bills 50/50. But in the likely situation that you two make unequal salaries, maintaining your desired standard of living could be more difficult for the one making less. Determining who pays what can be a sensitive and possibly uncomfortable topic. But having an honest conversation about it ahead of time can keep it from becoming an issue in the future.
What are your savings goals?
Making a habit of saving is difficult for almost everyone. Why? Because you typically have to wait a while to reap its benefits. But with an additional opinion on how much to save and what to save for, saving for your future goals is even harder to maintain, unless you’re both completely on board. So before you decide how much you can save, take some time to brainstorm what you’d want to save for – then create a plan to make it happen.
There’s not one right way to manage your financial life as a married couple. But it is important to have these discussions early, so you’re able to start – and continue – your marriage off on the right financial footing.
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