Getting married to your significant other can be one of life’s most beautiful moments, where two people make a commitment to create a life together and uphold vows of commitment to one another.
Engaged couples, however, may be blissfully unaware of the state of their own or their potential spouse’s finances. While it may be an uncomfortable thought, money is often cited as the reason for couples divorcing, so confronting all of the money-oriented obstacles ahead of time can be the key to a long-lasting and fruitful marriage.
In this article, we’ll look at four financial signs that may indicate that whether you or your significant other may need to untangle their finances before tying the knot.
The Cost of Marriage
One of the first financial signs that you’re not ready for marriage is if you’ve felt overwhelmed by the cost of getting married.
The average cost of a marriage in the US (including ceremonies, hall rentals, and entertaining your guests at the reception) is nearly $27,000, which is a staggering amount for an event that only lasts a day.
In addition, the average cost of a honeymoon can range from $3,400 – $5,100, bringing the total for getting married to over $30,000, not to mention engagement and wedding rings that are expensive.
If you’re shouldering that expense (or a large part of it), you should be aware that after the festivities are over, you may be left with an extremely large bill at the outset of your union.
Frank Financial Discussions
After you’re married, you are essentially tethered to another person’s finances—for better or for worse! There are a number of questions you should ask your significant other before the wedding march begins, including:
- Do you have any outstanding debts?
- Are all of your tax returns up-to-date?
- Will both of us work, or will one of stay at home?
- Will we keep separate bank accounts and/or file separately on our tax returns?
- Are there any aging family members that we will have to plan to care for?
- What is our monthly budget?
- Should we consider a prenuptial agreement if things go south?
- Are there any recurring costs (ie. alimony, child support) from former marriages?
If you don’t know for sure how your fiancé handles their finances, consider asking more probing questions. While this type of inquiry may be uncomfortable and cause some strain on your relationship, it can feel much worse when you realize that you’re held legally responsible for a debt that you didn’t create—or worse, didn’t know existed!
Credit Scores and Credit History
While you may end up sharing just about everything after getting married, your credit scores and credit history remain separate in the eyes of credit issuers.
This can affect relationships significantly, especially if a house was owned by one partner before the marriage and you need to refinance.
The same goes for insurance premiums and rates, as your spouse being a named driver on your standalone policy may raise your rates significantly when they’re brought onto the policy.
While you may sympathize with your fiancés dire financial situations and offer to help, realize that you may be in for a rocky road if outstanding debts begin to suffocate your finances.
Your Financial Future Together
People change careers, go back to school, or start their own businesses all the time. Do you understand how your financial future will work, especially if you or your partner decides to subtract their income from your budget?
It helps to know that if they’re planning to go into business that they establish a LLC to keep your side of the bills intact should the business fail (or be held liable for damages to another party).
And while marriages are a celebration of life, you should make plans to execute your estate in a will in the event of one partner’s death, or bolster each other with life insurance policies.
No one should have to deal with important financial matters while dealing with grief, but if you haven’t discussed what the future entails, you may not be ready to be married.
If you’ve already considered all of these financial signs and deemed your partner worthy, then congratulations on a long and fruitful partnership.
While talking about money with your loved one isn’t a pretty topic, neither is divorce.