10 Conversations About Money to Have Before You Tie the Knot

Getting married is very exciting. So too is planning a wedding. Just picture it: all your friends and family in one place, celebrating you and your sweetie, and the open bar.

But getting married is serious business, and a marriage license is a legally binding document. You need to be clear-eyed about what you’re getting into and you certainly don’t want to be surprised by anything. You want to know exactly who you’re marrying, and how they feel about money.

I’m not married. Heck, I’m not even engaged. But I do write about money, and I am in a serious relationship, so (luckily for my boyfriend?) I’ve figured out the areas where we need to learn more about each other before we decide to spend our lives together. Things I need to learn: How will we save? Where will we invest? Do we have similar risk tolerances? Where are his emotional triggers? What are mine? Will we fight about money? (Answer: Yes, we probably will.) What will we do when one of us gets mad about spending? (Hopefully we talk about it!)

Read on for 10 conversations about money you should have with your partner before tying the knot. Sit down with your sweetie and talk through all 10 of these tonight, and then you’ll be able to rest easy.


  • 10 Conversations About Money to Have Before You Tie the Knot 1 of 11
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  • 1. The debt conversation 2 of 11

    How much debt do you have? How much does your partner have? In which categories? This is a very good starting point, and a great way to see how your partner feels about their debt. Are they ashamed? Defensive? Is there a good explanation for their level of debt? Is there a good explanation for yours? Having this talk will not be easy by any stretch, but you better know exactly what you're getting into when you bind yourself legally to someone else (and their debt). You owe it to yourself and your future partner to be 100% transparent here.


    Image by Frugal Portland

  • 2. The income conversation 3 of 11

    How much money do you each make? What does that translate to on any given month? Is commission involved? If so, what does a "normal" month look like? What about a "really good" month? Are there bonuses? When do they come? Add both monthly incomes together to determine your combined monthly income.


    Image by Frugal Portland

  • 3. The expense conversation 4 of 11

    Which bills do you pay now that you'll continue to pay once you're married? What bills do you pay that they won't? How will you split them? How much of your monthly income goes toward bills? Will living in the same place save you any money?


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  • 4. The savings conversation 5 of 11

    Speaking of savings, how much will you dedicate toward savings each month? In my case, I'm really interested in saving half of our income. This is something I have already discussed with my partner (even though we are not engaged) because it's really important to me. In fact, if I'm able to do it on my own income, then we certainly can do it together. What are your savings goals? How can you make them happen together?


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  • 5. The combining finances conversation 6 of 11

    How will you combine finances? Will you share everything? Will you share nothing? Talk it through at least a few times before marriage. You'll be happier to have everything out in the open, and you'll really see here if there is some sort of conflict. It's important to talk about expectations. We often expect to mimic our parents' financial behavior, but the conflict comes from growing up in different places.


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  • 6. The emotional spending conversation 7 of 11

    We're all emotional spenders, to a certain extent. What are your triggers? What makes you want to spend emotionally, and where do you spend when you are triggered? Ask your partner the same thing. If you buy shoes when you're upset, and your partner gets upset that you're buying shoes, then you enter into a cycle of unhappiness that is hard to fix.


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  • 7. The retirement conversation 8 of 11

    Do you both have IRAs? 401(k)s? Do you both plan to max those out? What does retirement look like to you? To your partner? Will you move to another city when you retire? Will you stay in your city? How old will you be when you retire?


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  • 8. The investing conversation 9 of 11
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    How will you invest? Do you have more money to invest after you've done your retirement plans? Where's your risk tolerance? Where's your partner's risk tolerance? What kinds of things do you want to invest in? Think outside the stock market. Do you have similar goals? Is passive income something to strive toward? What does that mean for you?


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  • 9. The prenup conversation 10 of 11
    10 Conversations About Money to Have Before You Tie the Knot

    Talk about the least romantic thing to discuss when you're getting married! Isn't it more fun to choose a DJ and buy a pretty dress? Of course it is. But remember, you're planning a marriage, not a wedding. So plan accordingly. Have this talk. You don't necessarily need a lawyer to draft an agreement, but you should write down what might happen to your assets and debts should the marriage dissolve. It's not setting yourselves up for failure. It's acting like adults and coming to terms with the statistics and facts.


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  • 10. The money disagreement conversation 11 of 11
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    Even if you follow the previous 9 steps, money disagreements are likely to come up. Instead of trying to cut them off, figure out how you're going to talk about money when it gets uncomfortable. Don't put this off! You'll end up either yelling at each other or repressing your feelings (or some combination of both!) and you'll prolong an argument that could have been solved quickly.


    Image by Frugal Portland

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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