If you and your significant other have been ring shopping, or have announced your engagement, this article is for you. We know you’re busy with wedding planning and housing headaches and whether she’ll ever understand your sense of humor, but as your credit union it’s our job to offer advice when it comes to our area of expertise. Here are 5 money related questions that you need to deal with before that marriage license is signed.
Perhaps you can use a long car ride as the time to delve into these. There’s no way to escape them once you’re married, so you might as well have the conversation in a car.
It’s unnecessary to know all the little nitty gritty details about each other’s financial life, but the following questions can set you up to cover a lot of ground and avoid unnecessary surprises.
- Where is the money currently going?
Have a sense of how much each of you spends each month and on what. If one of you has a credit card payment that is eating up 30% of your salary, that’s money that can’t be going towards a house payment or vehicle. What are your monthly obligations and how many payments are left on these?
- What kind of lifestyle do we see for ourselves?
What area of town do you want to live in? How large does your house need to be? Do you want to be able to save money and live in a smaller house or save less money, have a nicer home but end up working more hours for more years to be able to afford that lifestyle? What kinds of things will you spend your money on? Experiences? Children’s educations?
It’s no secret that kids don’t come out with a manual OR c-notes taped to their fleshy little appendages. The associated expenses of childcare and schooling must be factored in and planned for prior to their arrival. If you don’t plan on using childcare, would an alternative like grandparents or a single income situation work for your family?
- How do you spend your disposable income?
Ah, the dark web. It’s easy enough to print your statements out for your monthly bills but to take a stark look at where the rest of your paycheck is going, requires complete candor. If one of you utilizes cash for these type of expenses, start by taking pictures of receipts every time you use cash.
- How much debt do you have?
It’s a fair question if you plan on having one account you both draw from. For instance if one party has student loans, will they be the responsibility of the person who took them out? Or will a certain amount come from the shared account? Maybe this is the agreement for student loans but not for credit card debt. There’s no right or wrong answer, but a discussion at this stage is warranted.
There are undoubtedly more money questions that you can ask, but these are great places to start.
Congratulations from RMLEFCU on finding your special someone!