When two people who are both professionals consider getting engaged and married, it is imperative that they first consider their finances. Some entrepreneurs, business owners, and high earners (or their parents) will want a pre-nuptial agreement. Whether you are in a position of wealth or just starting out, there are many questions that should be discussed before walking down the aisle.
The first set of questions involves current finances:
- How much do each of you make?
- How much have each of you saved?
- Do you both have retirement plans? Are you contributing to 401(k) plans at work? Are each of you contributing the maximum amount?
- Do you pay for things with cash (debit card), or do you use credit?
- Does either party have debt (credit card, school loans, car loans, mortgages, personal loans)? How much debt is there? It is important to know what is owed ahead of time so that you can both plan on how you are going to pay it off. It is also important to know each other’s credit ratings.
You then need to think about how each of you handles money. Spending habits can be a common source of discord for some couples. Even if both of you are high wage earners, it is important to discuss the following:
- What amount are each of you comfortable spending before having to consult the other person?
- Will you be spending money on advanced degrees?
- What should your vacations cost?
- How much of your budget should be put aside for future goals – bigger home, vacation home, boat, kids’ education, retirement, etc.?
Also consider current and future lifestyle choices or preferences like:
- Do your parents currently help pay for any of your bills? Do you get money from grandparents or a trust fund? How do you feel about parents helping out once you are married?
- Do you have emergency money set aside? How will you pay for unexpected things that come up (car crash, fertility treatments, ill parents, etc.)?
- Would you help parents or siblings financially if they needed it?
- How many children do you want? Do you anticipate sending them to private schools? Camp? Private lessons? Sports activities? Do you intend to pay for their college and graduate school expenses?
- Do you prefer to invest in material things, like a bigger house, or in experiences, like travelling?
- Who will take charge of paying the bills? Who will oversee the investments? Will it be a joint effort? If you needed financial counselling, would you be willing to get help?
These are just some of the many questions that should be discussed. However, if you start with these, it will provide a good open flow of communication that can lead to continued conversations down the line. Many marriages run into difficulties when the partners are not on the same page with finances. By discussing these issues ahead of time, it can not only improve your financial success as a couple, but also contribute to a healthier relationship overall.
If you would like to speak with someone who can help the two of you create a joint budget, financial plan, and lifestyle analysis, reach out to one of our Wealthspire Advisors. We can help you get control of your financial future together.