How to Discuss and Plan Finances after Marriage

Tying the knot means gaining a partner with whom you’ll go through life’s ups and downs. And while money management may not be the most exciting part of the journey, it’s a vital point to discuss prior to and throughout your marriage and family life.

Love and money professional Bethany Palmer, one half of The Money Couple, which helps couples avoid clashes over money, provides suggestions for tackling the subject of money with your partner.

Be Honest and Upfront About Your Personal Money Management

Money secrets can kill relationships, Palmer says, so be honest about your situation at the onset. If you’re bringing debt or a poor credit history into a marriage, for instance — and don’t talk about it first — you’re not putting a solid foundation under your relationship.

"We know it can be scary, but it’s important to have full money transparency," Palmer says.

Open communication isn’t only necessary in the beginning. Seek to constantly maintain clear and frequent communication about money throughout your marriage.

Know Your ‘Money Personalities’

Palmer contends that everyone has a "money personality" - or personal money management style. In a marriage, you need to know and understand both your own and your partner’s money personality. For example: Are you a spender or a security seeker? Do you penny-pinch and clip coupons, or do you immediately spend a portion of every paycheck you get? Are you a saver or an investor?

Palmer says 80 percent of couples who take The Money Couple personality assessment are actually in a relationship with someone with a very different money personality.

"Many people marry their money opposite because opposites attract," she says, adding that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. "Remember you love this person. If you try to change who he or she is when it comes to money, you will drive away him or her and you will drive yourself crazy."

Create a Strategy for Handling Finances After ‘I Do’

Once you understand how your partner handles money, together devise a game plan for the future. Consider these questions, for example:

  • How much will each of you save from your paychecks to put toward retirement?
  • Will you combine accounts or keep them separate?
  • Who will be responsible for paying monthly bills on time?
  • Will a spender have a separate fund for impulse purchases?
  • Will a security seeker have a rainy-day fund for emergencies?
  • How often will you formally discuss and update your financial picture?

There are no right or wrong answers to these family money management questions. They’re decisions you should make as a couple based on what’s right for the two of you. Once you have a strategy in place, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your financial life may look like going forward.

"Make sure you have a financial future plan that is flexible and realistic, and will take into consideration both of your money personalities," Palmer says.

Ultimately, talking about finances doesn’t have to ruin the excitement of getting married.

"The fact is, money affects our relationship every day, every hour, whether we want to admit it or not," Palmer says. So take control to help ensure your financial life together is a positive one.


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