Marriage and Money, Before you Say “I Do”

There are many aspects of marriage that are consistent trouble spots for couples. Disputes about money are by far the most common cause of divorce. Here is a list of money-related topics that every couple should discuss in detail before they tie the knot. Remember, you may revise your answers later but you want to have a good understanding of your prospective spouse’s feelings and habits.

Habits

  • What are your spending habits?
  • Do you live paycheck to paycheck?
  • What percentage of income do you save?
  • Have you always been responsible with money?
  • Discuss any goals that you have that require money.
  • How do you plan to achieve these goals?
  • How important is each goal to you, on a scale from 1 to 10.

Family History

  • How did your parents handle money while you were growing up?
  • Was anyone in your family stingy? How did that make you feel?
  • Was anyone in your family financially irresponsible? How did that affect you?
  • Do you have any family members who have been or are currently in financial trouble?
  • What age did you become financially independent?
  • Share what your money management habits were leading up to that point.

Debt

  • Do either of you have debt?
  • How much?
  • How long have you had it?
  • At what rate of interest?
  • If it is a significant amount, discuss why and how it reached that level.
  • How will it be paid?

Wedding Costs

  • How will you pay for the wedding and honeymoon?
  • Will there be any debt acquired?
  • If yes, what is the plan for eliminating this debt?

Assets

  • Do either of you own real estate?
  • Do you have other major assets?
  • What would be required to access the value of these assets if needed?
  • Are any of these assets shared with other owners?

Income

  • Will both of you contribute to household expenses?
  • If so, what percentage will each person contribute, or which bills will each person pay?

Expenses

  • What are your current expenses?
  • Can any of these items be merged or eliminated?
  • What impact will your marriage likely have on expenses?

Savings

  • Will you establish a joint savings account?
  • Who will contribute to it?
  • What it will be used for?

Major Purchases

  • Is there an amount of money is too much to spend without consulting the other?
  • How do you think major purchases should be handled?

Discretionary Spending

  • How much money will each person have to spend as they like?
  • What type of expenses do each of you expect the other to pay out of their discretionary budget?

Retirement Savings

  • Do either of you currently have retirement accounts?
  • Will your accounts be combined?

Survivorship

  • In the event that one of you passes away, what are your expectations for your assets and debts?
  • Are you aware of the estate laws in your jurisdiction?
  • Do you have a will?