Honesty is a healthy behavior in general, and it’s especially important when it comes to your significant other. Because marriage is a financial relationship as well as a romantic one, being honest about your finances can help you start your journey together on the right foot. Here are some things you and your spouse should know about each other’s finances.
Marriage involves planning for the future—that’s the point of a lifelong partnership! It makes sense, then, that you would want to talk with your partner about any life insurance policies you may have. You may want to discuss whether the policy and death benefit meet your needs as a family, or whether you need additional coverage. If you have a permanent life insurance policy, knowing about things like cash value and potential dividends can be helpful for planning down the line. And, if you don’t have life insurance, getting married is a good time to consider it. Life insurance is an important protective measure, and your fiscal discussion isn’t complete until you’re both on the same page regarding insurance.
Many couples’ conversations about money start by disclosing salaries. This is natural, since knowing how much money you have coming in is key to assessing your household’s financial health. You may both be used to making most of the economic decisions, but that may change once you’re married. You’re in a partnership, and it’s important that you both know enough about each other’s income to make informed decisions and ensure your lifestyle is a fit for your joint income.
Beyond salary, it’s important to understand each other’s assets. How much money does each of you have? What about investments? Do you have any real estate? Other valuables, like classic cars or art? As you make plans on how to best combine your finances, it’s important to have a clear understanding what each of you owns. Depending on financial your situation, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement (or prenup) if you’re not yet married or a post nuptial agreement (postnup) if you already are.
We’ve all heard the stories about marriages hitting a rough patch when secret bank accounts are discovered—don’t be like them! That isn’t to say you can’t have individual accounts (paying for gifts and surprise vacations would be extremely difficult otherwise); rather, you and your partner should be aware of each other’s accounts and know how to access them in case of an emergency.
You’ve covered how much you and your significant other make; now is the time to discuss how much you owe. Debt can be among the touchiest subjects when talking personal finances, but it’s important to push through that discomfort so you and your partner can make financial decisions from a place of mutual trust. This can help you when planning your financial trajectory; for example, you could avoid applying jointly for a loan if you’re aware that your spouse’s credit is a lot weaker than yours. If you are honest with each other about your debts and liabilities, you can also work together to pay them off.
Trust each other
Everyone says openness is key to a successful marriage for a reason. Honesty isn’t just crucial for building lasting trust and love—it’s also key to practical aspects, like understanding your joint finances and creating a successful financial future. If you and your spouse start out being transparent about your finances and continue to keep each other informed, it can be easier to plan together and make financial decisions throughout your marriage.