You’re engaged! Congratulations! I mean that from the bottom of my heart, as it was only three and a half short years ago that I was in your position. Announcing to everyone that we were engaged was such a fun time, and it was so nice to receive everyone’s genuine well wishes and excitement for us.
Financial Topics to Discuss Before Marriage
It’s time to get serious about your life with your partner, and this includes having several financial discussions to help shape your future course together. You may be uncomfortable bringing some of these topics up, but having these conversations now can really help versus wishing you had had some of these conversations years down the road.
Decide on Whether or Not to Change Your Name
While this decision may have been cut and dry in your parents’ and grandparents’ day, now it is a discussion that you should have before getting married (if for the simple fact that you will need to do a lot of paperwork to change accounts after saying “I Do”).
In our marriage, I decided to change my last name to my husband’s but to keep my maiden name as my pen name. It felt like a good compromise to both of us.
Read More: Brokers Charge Fees to Change Your Name
Decide on Where the Two of You Will Live Together
Does one person have a home? Are both of you in apartments? Do you live together already? Sometimes it is easiest to move into a new apartment or new home together rather than one person move into another person’s place. Of course this will work as well, but there may be a bit more discussions on making room for each other rather than if you move into an empty space together from the start.
Read More: 7 Frugal Moving Tips
Decide on Whether or Not to Combine Finances
Once again, in most of history this was a given that finances would be combined. But it turns out that you are free to make your own choices for what will work best for you and your partner in your marriage. I know of couples who have combined finances, and I know of couples who have not done so. I also know of couples who have pursued a hybrid approach where they each have their own account and then have an account together from which bills are paid. The point is to make sure that it works for both of you.
My husband and I chose to combine our finances, and began doing so while we were paying for things towards the wedding. This eased the transition period; however, many financial gurus will tell you to not combine finances until after you are married.
Read More: How to Manage Money in Your Marriage
Discuss Any Debts You Each Have
If you both have not disclosed your debt loads (if any) to each other yet, now is the time to do so. How will you handle these debts together? How much are the monthly payments? What is your plan for paying off your debt?
Map Out Future Financial Plans
Where do you see yourself in 2 years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? You need to ask your partner these same questions. It is important to know what each other wants and what each other needs.
How to Pay for the Wedding
Weddings can be a huge expense. I’ve discussed before about how to save money on the wedding, but did not discuss one of the most important parts of it all: how it is going to be paid, and who is going to pay for it. You can choose to go to a courthouse and get married, or you can choose to have a wedding and reception. While the choice is definitely up to you, there are huge variances in what it will cost.
As someone who pretty recently went through the process, I can say that you should never assume who will or will not pitch in, nor should you assume that everyone has the same thoughts or values as you when it comes to your wedding. You will need to have discussions between you and your fiancé, as well as with any parents that you feel may wish to contribute towards your wedding. If parents bring the topic up first, that is wonderful! If not, then you will need to talk about how to approach the topic to whomever you will want to ask.
Our number one goal was to not go into debt for our wedding, as well as to pay down our non-mortgage debt at the same time. And I am happy to report that we only missed this goal by four months. We have been consumer debt-free since September 1, 2010 (married on April 17, 2010). You might wish to work on the same goals, as going into our marriage without massive amounts of “his” and “her” debts has only made us stronger.
Some of these conversations and decisions may not be fun, and may feel awkward. But it is important to have them in order to understand each other better. Chances are that up until now you have not sat down to have deep financial discussions. Now is the time!