Marriage is great! When two people who love each other decide to take the ultimate step and vow to be joined by this most binding of institutions (although the high rate of divorce in this country flies against that particular statement, we won’t open that can of worms though). I love weddings, the dancing, the laughing, the people, and most important the booze and the cake! What’s not to like, right? The bride and groom get all the fawning love and attention of their near and dear ones and a heap load of presents, too! It’s the most perfect way to embark upon this new, amazing journey that will last you a lifelong. Before you walk down the aisle however, you need to make sure you and your potential spouse have a few pertinent conversations. The usual stuff like whether or not they plan on having children, do they have a crazy stalker ex on a restraining order, whether they’re secretly spies, you know, stuff like that. The most important bit though, is having the ‘money’ talk.
The money talk is that conversation where you and your fiancé sit down, and discuss everything to do with finances. The reason this is important is because you don’t want to start off the wonderful new adventure with a crippling financial pit fall, so instead you show complete honesty and tell your significant other what’s what, and plan for a future properly.
Must have pre-marital financial conversations
• Debts. Simple and straightforward, if you owe anyone any money, be it a student loan, a car loan, house loan, or even some cash borrowed from a friend or relative, disclose it now. This is the basic foundation of this conversation, you chart out all that you owe, who you owe it to, how much you’re paying as the installment, and when it is due. This way, you know how much money is guaranteed to go out of the house post-marriage, and the future can be planned accordingly.
• Assets. The exact opposite of the first step, here you talk about all the financial assets you own. Whether it is a business, property, or even a really rare collectible Pokémon card. What your investment portfolio, if any, consists off, what your bank balance is, if you are owed any money, and how much you earn. Talk about the breakdown of your salary, what the basic pay is, what the bonuses are etc. If either of you own a business, share all details such as net profit/loss, assets held, the whole nine yards. This complete disclosure of current and future income will again form the building block of your financial future together.
• Joint or separate. One of the most awkward topics of conversation to broach, and all the more necessary because of it. You need to decide, as a couple, whether you will merge your financial identities into a joint account, or you’ll stay independent in that respect. This is important because you do decide to open a joint account, the process needs to be gotten underway, and your personal accounts need to be taken care of. This kind of process does take time, and you don’t want to be interrupted about it when on your honeymoon!
• Budget. If the running of the household costs X amount, you need to decide how X is split up between both parties. This is important regardless of whether or not you have a joint account. Decide, for example, who commits the physical act of actually paying the light bill, and whose pocket the money to pay it comes from. This way there’ll be no defaults on the assumption that the other person would deal with it.
• Insurance. Your better half needs to know if there is an insurance policy drawn out on your name, whether it is a health insurance policy or life insurance, or even property insurance on your home. This way, there’ll be no overlap, and the spouses will both know what to expect if something untoward happens. Do not forget to disclose any insurance policy made on your behalf by your employer either, as these things tend to slip the mind.
If there are no policies taken out, consider getting at least life insurance policies, as your soon-to-be better half will come to depend on a higher combined salary that the two of you bring, or even the priceless effort that a stay at home spouse provides, and will need some security in case something goes wrong.
In fact, Byron Udell, CEO of AccuQuote recommends getting a life insurance policy long before you decide to get hitched. “Young people who have life insurance protection now can simply change the beneficiary to reflect their spouse and/or children once they’re married and need financial protection for their new family.”
Entering into a marriage without this discussion is like playing a blind hand at poker, you may not necessarily lose, but the odds drop sharply on this happening. Life isn’t a game of poker however, and should not be treated as such. Instead enter into the marriage with everything laid out on the table, and improve the odds of it being a more comfortable and blissful one.
Author Bio: Frank Mitchell has worked as a life insurance agent for 10 years. After an accident in 2011 that kept him at home for more than a year, Frank started offering advice on forums and other social media networks. He now works as financial advisor and in his spare time writes articles on subjects he is passionate about. On the weekends, you’ll find Frank dirt biking.