You know your partner’s favorite color and food by heart, but have you ever had an honest, open conversation about your short- and long-term financial and career goals? If not, you should: Even if you plan to maintain your finances separately, you and your spouse will be greatly affected by each other’s money and career choices.
Here are seven money matters you should get squared away before saying, “I do.”
- When it comes to debt, honesty is the best policy. While you’d no doubt rather be telling your soon-to-be spouse about a hefty trust fund, valuable investments, or generous annual bonus at work, if—like a lot of us—you’re carrying a significant amount of debt it’s important to be upfront about it. And not simply because your personal debt will soon become marital debt: A full and open accounting of your true joint financial situation will help you build a stronger relationship and make better, more well-informed plans for the future.
- Align financial goals. In your mind, you might be hoping to buy a home, invest in real estate and fully fund your Roth IRA every year. Meanwhile, your fiancée could be taking an entirely different saving approach, aiming to pay off credit card debt and sock away enough money for an exotic summer vacation. Taking time to talk through your goals and what you’re willing to compromise on—and, perhaps even more essentially, what you are not willing to compromise on—can help you develop a plan that gets you both as close as possible to your most cherished priorities.
- Reveal your saving and spending philosophies. Legend has it opposites attract—and research does actually show that spenders tend to marry savers. However, if you and your spouse are polar opposites in this regard, you’ll likely spare yourselves a lot of grief by identifying one another’s core money philosophies sooner rather than later. You don’t need to handle money the same way to have a smooth relationship, but providing your loved one a realistic expectation of how you will behave in matters of personal finance—and vice versa—certainly won’t hurt.
- Trace each other’s family (money) tree. The way your parents handled or talked about money—or didn’t—may well have had a profound impact on your own financial behaviors. Exploring the roots of certain attitudes you hold toward money will not only offer your future spouse a little perspective on where you’re coming from and promote healthy communication in your relationship, but might also be spark epiphanies that can help you refine your own budgeting and saving priorities as you move forward.
- Express career goals. It is not outside the realm of possibility that—at least until that blessed day when you retire—you’ll spend as much time at work building a career and identity as you will at home with your spouse. Shouldn’t you share the hopes and dreams you hold for such a consequential component of your life with the most important person in your life?
- Make decisions about balancing career aspirations. Consider details such as job satisfaction, opportunity for upward mobility, current and future salary and any other elements that might pertain to you or your spouse’s role or industry. For example, if you plan to start a family, one spouse might become responsible for financially supporting the family—will one career be prioritized above the other? If so, whose would it be? And for how long?
- Discuss relocation. Perhaps the biggest question regarding the balance above—big enough, indeed, to warrant its own section—is whether you’d relocate and how far to further one or both of your careers. Community and living environment profoundly shapes our lives and how we live. If there is a possibility the career of you or your spouse could require significant moves, it’s important to be on the same page beforehand.
Through every life transition or celebration, Fifth Third Bank is available to help you manage. We’re here to help with expert financial advice or planning at every life stage.