Couples can best protect themselves against financial challenges by having a heart-to-heart money talk before getting married. Here are several topics to discuss before you say “I do”:
Assets and liabilities – Assets may include bank accounts, investment accounts and a house. Liabilities could include credit card debt, auto loans, student loans and unpaid medical bills.
Debt and credit history – Both of you have the right to know if your future spouse has a troubled credit history. Work together to improve your credit as couple, and make joint decisions about incurring future debt.
Household budget – Start by reviewing your incomes, monthly expenses and savings plans. Track all of your expenses for a month or two then work together to create a budget that’s realistic and right for each of you.
Financial transactions – First, decide whether to have individual or joint bank accounts, or a combination of each. Choose a financial institution with convenient locations, along with useful tools, like combined spending reports and online bill pay. Discuss sharing financial duties, like balancing the checkbook, paying the mortgage and monitoring accounts online.
Long-term financial goals – Will you buy a house, purchase a second car, have children? Agree on your long-term goals in the beginning and create a solid strategy and a disciplined savings plan to meet them.
Retirement planning - It’s never too soon to begin saving for retirement. Set your retirement goals and talk with a financial planner now to figure out how you can reach them.