Getting engaged is super exciting! You made the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone, and you’ve likely talked a lot about what you’d like that life to look like. Hopefully included some talking about the financial reality of that life together. However, if you haven’t dug into the details here are ten moves to make with your fiancee to ensure you start your life together financially strong.
1. Sit Down and Talk About Your Finances
If you have yet to sit down and discuss where you each stand moneywise, now is the time. Make it an appointment between you two, so neither of you is blindsided, and both of you can be prepared.
Make sure you set a tone of openness and honesty. Avoid judging any financial mistakes either of you have made. Once you know where you both stand regarding attitudes towards your money, you can start to figure out how to deal with and combine your money going forward.
2. Check Your Credit Scores Together
There is a lot more to money than just how you spend, what lines of credit you have, and any debt. Combining your life means being considered as a whole when you look to make a purchase, like a house, together. Taking on a big financial decision together means you need to know each other’s credit scores.
As credit scores are the report cards of life, it can be tough to look at your credit score, much less share it with your partner. Enjoying a drink when you share your scores, wouldn’t be a horrible idea. Guys – remember not to gloat if your score is better.
3. Review Your Credit Reports
Checking your credit report regularly is a good habit to get into, but if you have maybe neglected it for a while, now is the perfect time to sit down and review it with your partner. If there are any errors on the report, it helps to have the support of your partner while you get things straightened out.
You also don’t want to start out your marriage dealing with financial issues. Get things settled now so you can focus on the more exciting aspects of being engaged like deciding on dresses, and where to go on your honeymoon.
4. Open a Joint Checking Account
How you decide to combine your finances is up to you, but even if you decide to maintain some finances separately having a joint checking account will help you to cover shared expenses.
If you have not yet lived together, you soon will, and this account can be used to pay for getting a place together, paying the rent or mortgage, furniture, utilities and any other shared expenses.
5. Talk About Financial Goals
If you’ve already acted on the steps above, great! You know where you each stand when it comes to money and have started to combine your finances, but now you need to make sure you and your partner are on the same page with your financial goals.
Buying a House
While there are lots of arguments in the rent vs. buy debate, buying a house or even choosing what area to live in are big decisions with big financial commitments. If you already have a house, how long will you live there? If you don’t have a house but want to get a house eventually, where do you want it to be located? How much do houses in that area cost? Knowing this information helps you to determine how much of a down payment you need to save.
Are you planning a typical retirement in your 60’s or would you like to pursue early retirement in your 30’s? You need to make sure you are each on the same page so you can take action to reach whichever retirement option you’re are working toward.
Once you’re on the same financial page, it may seem like you’ve agreed on how you should be spending money. However, day to day life and the spending that goes along with it can easily diverge from bigger goals you’ve set as a couple. Avoid the tension that money can cause in a relationship and be open about how you think you should be spending money day to day.
Remember all the little things day to day can add up.
6. Open a Joint Savings Account
Setting a savings goal together is just the first step, you’ll need some place to stash the cash you’re saving. A joint savings account not only ensures you don’t accidentally spend the money, but also allows you to earn some interest.
7. Come up with a Debt Payoff Plan
If you or your partner are going to be entering the marriage with debt, you need to decide how you will handle it. Will you live off of one income and the other’s will go directly toward the debt? Or will you both side hustle to get it paid off. Do you plan to pay the highest interest rate debt first or the lowest balance? Knowing what debt repayment strategy you’ll use and how you’ll get that debt paid off will allow you peace of mind.
8. Financially Plan Your Wedding
There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding, from asking friends to be part of the bridal party, to picking the venue and the date, and deciding on flowers. And underneath all the things showing up in those great wedding photos is a price tag.
Set a budget and plan your dream wedding the frugal way.
9. Figure Out How to Afford Your Dream Honeymoon
After the wedding is over, you’ll be looking forward to getting away on your honeymoon. Fortunately, travel is one of the easiest ways to save money. There are rewards points and miles, and sites that discount bundled vacations. You are sure to find a great deal for a great honeymoon.
10. Discuss Future Goals
Last but not least before saying, “I do.” You need to be sure and discuss the big life topics, in case you hadn’t caught on by now, almost every decision has a financial impact. Do you want kids? Pets? To travel long term? Move across the country to be closer to the family? These are all things you and your partner are going to want to discuss to make sure you agree to an overall plan, even if you change course later on.
There are a lot of things to consider to do when you get engaged but setting a solid financial foundation with your partner is something to prioritize. It will pay off in spades long after you get married.