Have You Had the Talk?
Having a conversation about money can be tough for even the happiest of couples. However, it’s better to know ahead of time whether there are any differences in how you handle finances. So here are a few more questions to pop when you find that special someone you want to spend the rest of your money with. After all, marriage shouldn’t be “’til debt do us part.”
1. How much debt are we bringing into the marriage?
The debt conversation doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s important to have before you say, “I do.” Be completely honest about student loans, credit cards, car payments and any other debts you may be bringing into the marriage. Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re paying bills off on time, so be up-front about what you owe and when it’s due.
2. What should our monthly budget be?
Figuring out your regular monthly expenses and then deciding how much money to spend on things like dining, entertainment, travel and shopping can be tricky for couples, especially when you’re navigating a shared monthly budget for the first time. Whether you decide to merge your money or keep finances separate and divide expenses, it helps if you create a budget that works for both of you.
3. Should we have a joint account?
A joint account should be a joint decision. Ask yourselves: Do we want all our money in one place? Are we going to be upset seeing every little expense the other person makes? Or, will it be easier to track how we’re doing if everything is in one place? Talk it through and decide together. If you do make the leap, you’ll need to select a trusted financial institution you can love as much as you love each other, so consider what’s important (for example, free checking, digital banking, rates and savings options).
4. What’s your credit score?
It may not be the most romantic conversation to have, but this one is important if you’re looking at buying a home or car in the near future. If you’ll need financing, it’s not just about how much you’ve budgeted for payments. Credit scores affect your financing options, so knowing each other’s scores before you start shopping for big-ticket items will help you set realistic expectations.
5. Should we share a credit card?
You’ve met your soulmate—should you share a sole credit card? If you decide to take the plunge, you might want to pick one that rewards you for the things you love to do together—like extra points for dining out, travel rewards or cash back (and what newlyweds don’t like extra cash?).
Remember—your credit scores benefit from having accounts open and in good standing for longer periods of time. So it probably makes sense to keep the oldest account open and add a card member, but do your research before closing or opening any accounts.
6. What are your financial goals?
Do you want to save money for a trip around the world, purchase a home, start a family or start your own business? And, what about way down the line—how do you want to live when you’re retired? Talking about your hopes and dreams for the future can help you lay the groundwork for what you want to achieve together.
7. How much do you have in savings?
Look at the big picture, including all the debt, insurance, savings and retirement accounts the two of you have, and how much you plan to save in these accounts going forward. It’s wise to take full advantage of the opportunities you have to save money for retirement now so you can enjoy your golden years together, or even retire early.
Setup for Financial Bliss
Having open and honest conversations about financial questions will help get you and your partner on the same page, setting you up for a life of (financial) bliss. At Navy Federal Credit Union, we want to help you and your spouse live happily ever after. Learn more about improving your finances and together you can have the future you've always wanted.