Before you tie the knot, it pays to know a few things. Everybody has a different way of managing their finances, and if you and your partner aren’t on the same page, you might find yourself struggling to navigate financial issues when they arise. In fact, an article in the Wall Street Journal notes, “One in five couples identifies money as their greatest relationship challenge.” It’s best to get ahead of this issue before it even becomes one. So, how can couples set expectations for their financial future? Here are a few tips.
Discuss financial values. Some people view money as something that should be saved and stored for possible future issues. Others view money as something that can be used to enhance their present lives. Both are true, and both opinions are necessary for a healthy relationship with your finances. However, problems can arise when one partner spends money too freely on unnecessary items or experiences, or the other partner refuses to spend money and compromise when they have the funds to spare. These extreme ends of the spectrum can build animosity in the relationship. By talking openly with your partner about your financial values, you can save yourself a lot of frustration. Just make sure to listen to your partner and be open to understanding their viewpoints.
Take the time to “future-cast.” What goals do you and your partner have for the future? Do you plan to start a family? Do you want to prioritize travel? Do you hope to buy land or start a business? What do you want to save money for, and is it something your partner is also on board with? Write these goals down individually, compare lists, and discuss where you align and where compromise is necessary. This is a future you’re building together, so it’s important to set expectations.
Discuss financial pasts and presents. What are you and your partner’s current financial situations? Do one or both of you have student loan debt? Medical debt? Do you have pre-existing investments? Discuss which debts you might be able to tackle together as a couple, and debts that each partner will take care of on their own. This can be a tough conversation, but it is important when setting yourself up for a successful financial future.
By discussing these questions, you and your partner can more easily discuss whether you want separate accounts, a joint account, or both! Explaining your values and setting expectations for your financial future allows you and your partner to see things from the others perspective and better understand where their views come from. Remember, while money can be a divisive topic, you’re in this together. Marriage is all about building each other up and strengthening one another, so don’t get discouraged. Discuss and be open to compromise, and you’ll set your financial future up for success!