How to Ensure You and Your Fiancé Are Being Financially Honest with Each Other
This is an incredibly important part of any partnership.
Talking about finances isn't romantic, but think about how much less romantic it will be if your new spouse finds out you're drowning in debt after the wedding. Being dishonest about your financial situation can feel as hurtful to your partner as infidelity, and it can have damaging long-term effects on your marriage. The earlier you both open up about any sensitive financial issues—such as debt, bad credit scores, or wild spending habits—the quicker you can make a plan together to work through them as a team.
Here, two financial advisors give their advice on getting the conversation started to make sure your fiancé is being open and honest about his or her financial situation.
Leave the Judgement Out of the Conversation
No one feels good about having debt. In fact, some people might feel so embarrassed about it that they hide it. "Dishonesty can often be unintentional," says Biljana McKinley, wealth advisor and co-founder of Evermay Wealth Management. "It could be a lack of confidence talking about financial matters or fear of disappointing your partner." Make sure your fiancé knows that you are there to support him, not judge him, and that it's fine to have different opinions about how to handle money, says McKinley. The important part is that you communicate about it. Seeking help from a premarital counselor or moderator can help encourage positive feelings while talking about potentially emotional issues.
Share Your Childhood Experiences with Money
Did your family have so much money you never had to worry about saving? Are you unsure how to create a budget? Maybe your family was secretive about money and it makes you uncomfortable sharing your financial habits. "Talking about our experiences with money can lead to our emotional ties with money," says Kelly DiGonzini, a senior financial partner with Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors and co-author of Your Dollars, Our Sense: A Fun & Simple Guide to Money Matters. "And that leads to sharing with your new fiancé about your money tendencies," she says. Some people tend to be savers, others tend to be spenders, but the important part is that you share the same lifestyle goals, adds McKinley. That way, you can work with your tendencies to achieve those goals together.
Give Each Other a Fun Budget
Even though it's important to follow a budget, it's also fun to have a little leeway, says DiGonzini. Choose an amount that you both feel comfortable with, such as $100 a month, that each partner can spend on anything they'd like. The spending money is already worked into the budget, so as long as each partner is adhering to the limit, it gives the feeling of financial freedom, but in a controlled sense. Another option is to set a price point, where one partner must confirm with the other before making the purchase, suggest DiGonzini. For example, for any purchase over $200, each partner must check in and have a conversation about it before buying.
Combine Your Accounts
There's no better way to keep track of each other's spending than to share the same account and see all the charges that come through. If you'd rather keep separate accounts, set up a profile on mint.com, which consolidates your financial accounts for easy viewing and lets you set a budget while keep track of savings.