15 Financial Questions You Need to Ask Before You Get Married
Getting married is a big commitment. Before you tie the knot, there are a lot of factors to consider besides your mutual love for each other. Not to be a buzz kill, but if you aren’t on the same financial page as your partner, your relationship could be in trouble down the road.
A recent survey by the National Debt Relief found that 54 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed believe having a partner in debt is a big reason to consider divorce. Three in five Americans say they have considered putting off marriage to avoid inheriting their partner’s debt, reports National Debt Relief.
So if your partner has popped the question, and you’re seriously considering accepting the offer, make sure you ask your betrothed these 15 financial questions before you walk down the aisle.
1. How much do you make?
Discussing incomes is often considered taboo. But if you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, you need to know what they bring to the table financially. Plus, if their income doesn’t match the lifestyle you see them live, there may be a reason that you don’t want to wait until you're married to find out. For example, if your girlfriend has a closet full of designer clothes but only earns $40,000 a year, that could mean she has a lot of debt.
2. How much debt do you have?
When you get married, you share everything, including debts you owe. Even if you decide to handle your finances separately after you’re married, in some states, you are responsible for your spouse's debt. So if your spouse defaults on a credit card or loan, the bank can come after you for the money.
3. Do you use credit cards?
You and your future spouse should take inventory of the credit cards you have between the two of you. If your partner doesn’t have a credit card, ask them why. Is it a personal choice because they don’t want to accrue debt, or is it because they can’t get one due to a tainted credit history?
4. What’s your credit score?
Financial institutions use credit scores to indicate a person’s fiscal responsibility, and you should do the same if you consider marrying someone. A low credit score may be a red flag on how your future spouse handles their money. Plus, it may make it harder for the two of you to buy a home or even rent an apartment if one of you has a low credit score.
5. What are your financial priorities?
If you’re ready to walk down the aisle with someone, it’s important to sit down first and have a heart-to-heart discussion on financial priorities to ensure you’re both on the same page. Find out if they like to spend money on experiences and travel or if they prefer to buy material things like buying a home or fancy cars. Differing priorities could lead to arguments down the road when you want to jet off to Paris, but your husband thinks the money will be better spent renovating the bathroom in your home.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy on your partner’s financial history can indicate that they may not be good with money. Bankruptcies usually stay on a person’s credit history for about seven years, which could hinder your ability to buy a home together or take out other loans after marriage.
7. How will we manage finances, jointly or separately?
Although it used to be customary for married couples to combine their finances and manage them jointly, more couples are opting to keep their financial houses separate after marriage.
8. Who would pay the bills after we get married?
If you decide to manage your finances together, you’ll have to figure out which one will be responsible for paying the bills and handling other financial administrative tasks. Remember, paying the bills doesn’t give you complete control over your spouse’s spending. Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.
9. How much do you have in savings?
Is your future spouse good at saving money, or do they spend every penny they have? You need to know this to ensure that both of your incomes contribute to your household expenses after you’re married.
10. How do you feel about prenuptial agreements?
The word “prenup” is often considered a dirty word in engagements, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s understandable that anyone with assets who is getting married would want to protect those assets if things go south.
11. What are your retirement goals?
You are never too young to think about retirement, especially if you're getting married to someone you hope to have by your side when you retire. Before you tie the knot, make sure you discuss what your thoughts are on how you’ll spend your Golden Years.
12. Are you paying off any student loans?
When discussing debts, it's good to find out if your spouse-to-be has any student loan debt and, if so, how you will handle that debt once you are married. Also, according to the Federal Student Aid website, if you are on an income-driven repayment plan for your student loan, getting married may result in changes to your required loan payment.
13. Do you want to go back to school?
Say your future spouse dreams of being a doctor, and you plan to get married before they start the medical degree. That means any student loans they take out after marriage are also your financial responsibility as their spouse.
14. Do you want children?
Finding out whether your partner wants children and, if so, how many, is an essential part of pre-nuptial planning. You should also discuss the issue on a financial level. Children cost money. Daycare alone can cost more than your annual salary. If you decide to add to your family, will one of you stay home to care for the child? Does your fiance expect you to stay home if you have children but you want to continue work? It’s best to have the discussion now.
15. Are you financially supporting anyone else?
If your betrothed has other mouths to feed, you should discuss how that will impact your finances once you are married. Maybe your future spouse has children from a previous marriage or provides financial support for their nephew. Whatever the case, you should lay all the cards on the table.