Till Debt Do Us Part: Managing Money When You Marry | CreditShout

Till Debt Do Us Part: Managing Money When You Marry

By Dawn Allcot / June 24, 2010

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There are certain questions you should discuss with your fiance before you get married. These include: “Kids or no kids?” “What religion?” and “Sheets: tuck or no tuck?”

I’m kidding about the last one, but questions about kids, religion, politics, and money can make or break a relationship. It’s best to figure these things out before you shell out $20K-plus on a wedding and commit to spending the rest of your lives together.

Having a conversation about money can be awkward, but it’s one of those things that needs to be done. After all, money — and your credit score — affects every aspect of your life, including:

  • Where you live together
  • The car you drive
  • Finding a job
  • Where you send your kids to school
  • Whether or not you can afford to have kids (and how many) — and pay for daycare or have one parent stay home with the kids
  • As you can see, money really does affect every aspect of your life. Your credit score affects how much you’ll pay in interest on a mortgage or car loan, and even the price of your insurance. A poor credit score can even keep you out of a nice apartment if a landlord decides to run a credit check.

    It’s important to discuss money with your partner before you get married. Here are three easy things you can do or discuss to get a clear picture of your partner’s finances before marriage.

    1. Discuss your income, expenses, and debt

    It’s hard to make assumptions about people’s salaries. Even if you think you know someone well, they could be living off credit cards. Or maybe your partner has more money than you think and chooses to live frugally.

    To get a clear picture of your joint financial future, you’ll want to know your partner’s net worth, including income from their salary as well as investments and any freelance work they might do, and the truth about their levels of debt.

    Are they making enough to live each month without going further into debt? And, most importantly, what are their plans to pay off their credit card debt and any installment loans?

    If you’re getting married, your partner’s financial problems could become yours, and vice versa. This doesn’t mean you have to call off the wedding if you don’t like what you see, but at least you’ll be prepared to work together to find solutions.

    2. Discuss your financial style

    Are you a spender or a saver? What about your partner? Different financial styles don’t have to be a deal breaker, but you do need to discuss a way to find middle ground.

    3. Make a budget

    Will you keep joint finances with your partner, or will you maintain separate accounts? If you’re keeping separate accounts, how will you split the bills? There are no right answers here, except what works best for you and your partner. The important thing is to have a discussion and decide. Your budget — and the way you manage money — may change over the course of your marriage. For instance, a couple who keeps separate checking accounts and splits the bills 50/50 may change their money management style once they have kids and one partner stays home to take care of them. That’s why it’s important to re-visit this discussion at least once a year, and especially prior to any major life changes. Stay on top of your financial situations, as a couple, throughout your marriage.

    4. Get free copies of your credit reports

    Just as you may not know someone’s salary without asking them, it’s impossible to know the state of someone’s credit history — or their credit score — without asking. Many people don’t even know their own credit score.

    In between trips to the florist, caterer, and bridal boutique when you’re planning you’re wedding, take some time to order copies of all three of your credit reports, and share them with your fiance. This article lists 3 ways to get a free credit report with no hidden fees.

    If you don’t like what you see — on your credit reports’ or on your fiance’s — make a plan to make timely payments, improve your credit score and pay down your debt. Now is also a good time to correct any errors on your credit reports that could be adversely affecting your credit score. Here are some tips on how to repair your credit for free.

    Having an error-free credit report and a plan to pay off your debt will help you when you take the step that follows the wedding for many newlyweds: buying a house together.

    The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.Additionally, the opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site

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