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Four Financial Topics to Discuss Before Getting Married

calendar iconPosted: May 14, 2021

Booking your venue, finding the perfect dress or tux and tasting cake. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement (and stress!) of planning a wedding, but it’s also important to plan for life together after the big day. Take some time to discuss these essential money topics before you walk down the aisle.

Holding Joint vs. Separate Accounts

Most couples combine their finances, but not all do. Figure out what is going to work best for the two of you. You could deposit both of your paychecks into the same joint account if you want to pool your money together. You could also have a joint account for shared expenses while keeping your individual accounts to budget for each spouse to have some discretionary spending. However, some couples find they like having separate accounts and want to keep it that way. If you choose that route, just be sure to discuss how you will pay bills. Split them 50/50? One person pays the energy bill and the other pays the phone bill and so forth? If there is a significant difference in income, discuss how you will handle that as well. Will the spouse who earns more pay a larger share of the bills?

Managing Money Together

Determine how you will budget together. You’ll need to add up your combined take-home pay, assess your expenses, establish savings goals and decide how much you’ll have leftover each month to spend on fun stuff like date nights and shopping. Check out Landmark’s Money Management tool within Online Banking for a convenient way to see an overview of your accounts and spending as well as create a budget. Make a plan to regularly check in on your budget together, like touching base a certain night of the week. You’ll also need to decide how you will pay the bills. Will you split up who pays which bill? Will one person take the lead? Even if one person is more financially savvy and comfortable, make sure you’re both participants in your shared financial future.

Disclosing Debt

Avoid surprises down the line. You don’t want to be caught off guard about how much debt your spouse has when you’re applying for your first home loan together (and vice versa). Have a conversation now about what types of debt you hold and how much you owe. Disclose any student loans, auto loans, credit card balances, etc. Debts incurred before marriage are treated as individual debt, while most debts incurred after marriage are treated as joint debt when you live in a community property state (like Wisconsin). Regardless, you’re becoming a team, and you’ll be working towards your financial goals together. It’s important to have a clear idea of what debt each of you is bringing to the marriage and how you plan to tackle it.

Expressing Financial Values

Are there long-term financial dreams you want to achieve like starting your own business or buying a lake house? Do you want to donate to certain causes that are near and dear to your heart like the local animal shelter or your church? Is it important to you to take care of your parents as they age or a sibling with special needs? Don’t assume your future spouse knows what you have in mind. Have open and honest conversations about your values and what implications they might have on your long-term finances.

We know discussing finances might not come as naturally as discussing your color scheme or first dance song, but by getting on the same page about managing money now, you’re building a strong financial foundation before you even tie the knot. We wish you a beautiful wedding day and a joyful marriage! As your credit union, we’ll be here to support you every step of the way on your new financial journey together.

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