When you've finally found that perfect person to settle down with, it's easy to become consumed by wedding arrangements, honeymoon planning, and other exciting aspects of newly married life. But if there's one thing you really need to carve out some time for prior to getting married, it's none other than talking money.
Unfortunately, almost half of U.S. adults don't talk money before tying the knot. Only 51% discuss the way they'll handle finances once married, according to a new SunTrust survey. Furthermore, only 41% of married couples discuss their salaries before making their unions official, while just 36% come clean about existing debt.
Given that money is a major driver of divorce these days, it's crucial to have a long, detailed discussion about finances before you marry the love of your life. Otherwise, you could end up subjecting yourself to a world of conflict early on, during what should otherwise be an extended period of marital bliss.
Getting onto the same page
Talking about money with your partner is crucial for a number of reasons. First, if you each have a different philosophy when it comes to spending, it could make for a seriously rocky start to your marriage.
Imagine that you're a saver, but your soon-to-be spouse is a spender. If you don't talk that out, you might find that you're arguing about money matters the moment you open a joint bank account.
Even if you're both in the same camp on the spend-versus-save front, you might have different priorities for each. For instance, if you both believe in spending more and enjoying life, you might butt heads if you prefer to pay for experiences and your spouse prefers to load up on physical possessions. And if you're both savers, you might prioritize retirement, while your spouse might err on the side of building a larger-than-average emergency fund.
None of these are issues that can't be overcome. The key, however, is to get them out in the open before they escalate.
Money secrets can hurt you
Being open about your salary and debt level is equally important. If you and your partner don't share this information, you'll be in a poor position to take on new expenses (like a mortgage) responsibly. You'll also struggle to follow a budget if you don't know how much income you have to work with or how much money you need to allocate to debt payments every month. Sitting down and sharing all of that information with each other, though, will allow you to set mutual goals and better manage your money once you start combining your resources.
They say that honesty is often the best policy in life, and when it comes to money matters and marriage, that most certainly holds true. Not only should you make money a topic of conversation before getting married, but you should also plan to uphold that practice regularly after you've tied the knot. For example, carve out some time every few months to review your household budget and sync up on financial goals you're looking to achieve. If you and your partner are open and honest about money, you'll be better positioned to support each other and establish a financially secure lifestyle. But if you start off your marriage with nothing but money-related secrets, you might doom yourself to a miserable existence that ultimately breaks that union apart.