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What kinds of financial issues should my fiancé and I discuss before we get married?
You should talk openly about your respective attitudes toward spending, debt, and saving. Be sure not to simply ask (or think), “Who’s going to pay for what?” although that’s an important question we’ll get to later. You and your fiancé should ask each other—and frankly answer—questions about how well you share, how much you tend to spend and on what, how much you save, how you invest, and what your long-term financial goals are.
Start by discussing how each of you feels about basic issues of financial responsibility. Will you support each other in adversity? Do you both view any obligations you may have to your respective families in the same way? How do you feel about respective responsibilities to ex-spouses or children from a former relationship, if any? On a more mundane level, who will manage the household bill-paying and bookkeeping?
Be candid about your past and present. Is one of you in debt—carrying a large credit card balance, perhaps, or a student loan that hasn’t been paid off? As a couple, what will you do about that? Does one of you have a bad credit rating, and if so, how will you work together to repair it?
Discuss the future. Do you plan to pool your money or wish to keep part, or all, of it separate? What will happen if one of you gets a job offer that requires the household to move—how will you decide whose job takes precedence? If you plan to have children, what will you do if one of you wants to stay home with them? Do you see eye to eye about the financial decisions involved in child-rearing, such as the costs of private vs. public schools? And even though retirement may seem a long way off, do you agree about the importance of investing for the future? Do you have similar goals and dreams for your later years? Are your investment styles in sync?
If you don’t start thinking and talking about these issues now, they are likely to become more complicated and difficult-to-discuss as time goes on. Though you may not be in full agreement on every issue before your marriage, your relation ship will be stronger for having talked through some of your similarities, differences, and concerns.