Your marriage is for richer or for poorer. Wouldn’t you rather know in advance which it’s going to be?
Congratulations on your pending nuptials! There’s nothing like finding the person you want to spend your life with. But at the risk of dumping a bucket of cold water over your romance, here’s an awkward question for you: Have you run a credit check on this character?
Or, putting it another way, your marriage is “for richer or for poorer.” Wouldn’t you rather know now which it’s going to be?
“Few people speak about the link between finance and relationships, yet money often acts as a major contributing factor to divorce,” said Joshua Kadish, a partner at RPG-Life Transition Specialists, an Illinois wealth-management firm. “Understanding how to navigate through financial challenges and preparing for the future will allow you to build a strong financial foundation for your relationship.”
That might sound reasonable if unromantic. But a survey just released by Experian (EXPR), the credit rating agency, says that the credit score is the top financially-related topic that couples do not discuss before marrying. In fact, the survey says, 14 percent of couples don’t talk about it after the marriage, either.
And yet, survey respondents said that financial responsibility matters more than physical attractiveness. And financial compatibility ranked above sex, religion and politics.
It may feel awkward. The conversation may be embarrassing. But here are 10 questions you really should ask your partner before you get married.
1. What’s Your Credit Score?
2. What’s Your Income?
3. How Much Do You Have In Savings?
4. What Debts Do You Have?
5. How Do You Feel About Joint Bank Accounts?
6. What Kind of Health insurance Do You Have?
Talk about whether the health coverage each of you has is adequate to your needs as a couple. You may find that your partner’s policy is better than yours, and that you can opt into it.
7. What Benefits Does Your Employer Offer?
8. Can We Talk Budgeting?
As a couple, you need to hash out your expectations for day-to-day life, and month-to-month spending. Will you eat out often? Is an annual vacation necessary to your well-being? Would you rather sit on the floor than buy furniture on credit? You need to understand each other’s priorities. And if you’re wise, you’ll craft a spending plan that formalizes those priorities, so you’re not spending carelessly.
9. What’s Going Into Your Retirement Accounts?
Your retirement benefits are an asset that each of you brings to the marriage. You need to know what each of you is contributing now, and make changes if necessary. If, for example, your partner has a better 401(k) matching plan, it could affect your joint savings decisions.
10. What Are Your Financial Goals?
You’re getting ready to share the rest of your life with another person. Make sure you share dreams and aspirations as well. The colorless phrase “financial goals” covers a host of expectations for your life ahead. But you can’t reach those goals without a plan — so start crafting it now.By: Carol Kopp