“This is so not romantic. Can we skip ahead and talk about my honeymoon in St. Lucia instead?”
Congrats on your upcoming nuptials! There’s nothing more romantic than visualizing your blushing bride or handsome groom on an island honeymoon, discussing your finances.
Yes, discussing your finances. Having the money talk early on will go a long way towards your long-term financial success and ultimately, a happy marriage. Studies show that money is the main source of anxiety among married couples. Since Stress and Discord are the power couple you’re not inviting to your wedding, figuring out how you and your partner will collectively manage money is the kind of pillow talk you need to have before walking down the aisle.
For some couples, “the money talk” is like an awkward first date: there’s forced conversation, too many personal questions, and you’re likely looking for an early escape. So, pour a glass of wine (or two) and start with these talking points:
Topic: You, your future spouse, and your families’ collective financial histories.
Conversation Starters: Was your family poor, middle class, or rich growing up? What did your parents teach you about money? What was your biggest money success and your biggest money failure? What are your financial fears?
Topic: Your respective saving and spending habits.
Conversation Starters: What’s your approach to saving? Do you find yourself struggling ahead of your next paycheck? What’s your definition of “treat yourself?” What’s the biggest purchase you ever made and how did you save for it?
Topic: Combining your finances.
Conversation Starters: Are we comfortable pooling all our finances into joint checking and savings accounts? Will we keep separate checking accounts and one joint savings? How will we contribute to our joint savings?
Topic: Tackling existing debt.
Conversation Starters: How many credit cards do you have? What’s your current plan for paying off student/credit card debt and is it a realistic one? Will the higher-earning spouse help the other pay down any existing debt? Do you know your credit score?
Topic: Creating and sticking to a budget.
Conversation Starters: After rent/car payments/cell phone bill and other necessities, where do most of your expenses come from? What are the things you feel you couldn’t possibly live without? Do you currently use any apps or software to keep track of your expenses?
Topic: Long-term financial goals.
Conversation Starters: What are your three most important financial goals? How do you envision retirement? Which money habits are we willing to change to achieve our long-term goals? How often will we check our progress towards these goals?
If you’re still having trouble making these conversations flow, consider visiting a financial therapist to help understand how your emotions play a role in your financial decisions. Since you’ll revisit these discussions long after you’re done visiting wedding websites, step away from your Pinterest account and focus on your financial accounts. Your pin board isn’t paying for that island honeymoon.
Photo: Ryan McGuire