Before you take the next step in your relationship, make sure that you’re financially ready for marriage and avoid a whole lot of heartaches in the future.
So you and your partner have been together for some time; long enough for you to seriously start thinking about tying the knot. You’ve probably had a few daydreams about your white wedding, the honeymoon in the Maldives, the different ways you’d decorate your loft apartment, and the babies—so many babies!
But don’t get carried away; let’s pause for a sec and get real.
Financial Planning Before Marriage
Yeah, this tough question “Are you financially ready for marriage”, can’t be avoided all your life. After all, marriage isn’t all rainbows and butterflies—it’s also bills, household budgeting, baby vomit, and a whole lot of give and take. Money has also been cited as the #1 reason for divorce, so you can’t just sweep this unsexy money business under the rug.
Before you make a commitment, take a good look at your finances and ask yourself these questions.
1. Have you had the money talk with your partner?
Yes, I know. Money isn’t exactly the most pleasant or comfortable conversation topic, but if you’re gonna get married, you have to talk about it eventually and ensure that you see eye-to-eye when it comes to finances.
And this money talk doesn’t happen just once. For financial planning as a couple to work, you and your partner should regularly get together to make sure that you’re on the same page.
If you’re not quite sure what you should talk about, you could try taking a personal finance workshop together. Or you could check out this article for some topics you should talk about.
2. Do you have financial goals?
That old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” can’t be any more relevant than with personal finances. Even if you aren’t getting married anytime soon, having financial goals is a must.
Ask yourself: Where do you want to be 5 or 10 years from now? What are the steps you’re going to take to get there? How does this change when your partner’s finances are involved? Have you accounted for family finances as well?
Your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a vision is vital if you want to achieve and maintain financial stability.
3. Are you in debt?
Being able to live within your means is something that you should be able to do long before you even think about marriage. If you happen to be in debt, that’s fine as long as you already have a set plan to pay these debts off, and quickly.
Marriage can make expenses even bigger, especially when you add kids to the mix, so the sooner you sort out your liabilities, the better.
4. Can you trust your partner with money?
Is your partner bad with money? We’ve all heard horror stories of people who only discovered after marriage that their spouse had gambling problems/a mountain of debt/etc. Your partner doesn’t have to be a financial whiz, but make sure that you aren’t ignoring any red flags.
5. Are your plans realistic?
Your vision of married life should be in line with reality. Can you really afford that sprawling three-bedroom condo unit you’ve set your heart on? And if you plan on having kids anytime soon, are you absolutely determined to send them to that posh international school your cousin’s kids go to? These questions are very important when you decide whether or not you are financially ready for marriage.
Having goals and dreams is all well and good. However, you should be able to differentiate between wants and needs, and adjust accordingly.
6. Are you willing to shift from “yours and mine” to “ours”?
Let’s face it: we all have our selfish tendencies. But when we get married, we have to make room for another person in our lives, even letting them significantly impact our finances. Have you decided on whether or not you should open a joint account together? Even if you’ve been with your partner for years, few things demand more selflessness than a marriage.
When you get married, you pledge to stay together no matter what, for richer or poorer. Self-examination is the first step to getting financially ready for marriage. By knowing where you and your partner stand, you’ll be able to start the next chapter on a high note.