3 Money Conversations I Had Before Marriage to Reduce Money Fights

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 16, 2021

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Talking has made all the difference in avoiding financial disputes.

Money management can be one of the most contentious issues in many relationships. In fact, The Ascent's research found that as many as 82% of people have argued with a partner over a purchase, while more than half wish they had more financial flexibility.

As a financial writer, I know the challenges that conflicting money styles create. As a result, before getting married, my husband and I had three big money conversations to reduce the chances that financial management would become a pain point in our relationship. Here are the three talks that we had, which you may want to consider tackling if you're in a serious relationship.

1. How do you feel about debt?

Borrowing money can create an ongoing financial obligation that affects what you can do with your income. I tend to use debt as a tool only to improve my net worth (for example, responsibly using a mortgage to buy a home well within my budget).

It was important to me to make sure that my husband didn't have a habit of borrowing to live beyond his means. Otherwise, this would've been a constant source of conflict during marriage. Fortunately, we both agreed about when and how borrowing should be approached.

2. What are your biggest financial goals?

As a married couple, it's inevitable that the financial decisions one of you makes will impact the life you can both lead -- even if you keep separate bank accounts.

After all, if one of you wants to retire early and is willing to live in a smaller house to afford to do so, but the other wants a mansion and doesn't care if you can't afford any retirement savings to get it, that's going to be a problem.

By discussing our financial goals, we got a good idea of whether our lifestyle preferences were compatible -- and found that we were on the same page and could team up to accomplish our joint goals together.

3. Are you willing to live on a budget?

Living on a budget can be constraining to some people, but it's ultimately really important to make sure you get the best value for your hard-earned dollars. The problem is, if someone who hates budgeting marries someone who wants to plan out every cent of spending, it's going to create lots of ongoing issues.

My husband and I discussed not only whether we would be willing to live on a budget, but also whether we could find consensus on the specific budgeting approach we'd take. Since there are different options -- from a budget that allocates every dollar to the much broader 80/20 approach -- it was important to know just how this aspect of financial planning would play out once we were budgeting together.

By having these talks prior to marriage, there were no unpleasant surprises after we started sharing a home and life together. We were able to make a joint budget that helped us work toward accomplishing the financial goals we had in common -- and that ensured we never had to take on the debt that we both shied away from.

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