You might have named the date and picked out a cute little bow tie for the ring bearer, but before you walk down the aisle, it’s important to make sure that you and your fiancé have a chance to sit down and talk about money. Being on the same page about your finances now will help you thrive once you’re married.
Here are a few things a good marriage money talk should touch on:
Tally Up Your Net Worth
You know your fiancé’s favourite brand of breakfast cereal and how they got that scar on their arm, but do you know their net worth? Before you tie the knot, it is important to discuss how much you and your partner make, what assets you own, and how much debt you both have. Having everything out in the open is the first step for planning for a bright future.
Chart Your Course
You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. Talk to your partner about your hopes and dreams. Do you want to buy a house in a few years? Do you want to travel the world in retirement? Now is the time to share what you would like to do with your lives to get a clear idea of what your mutual goals will be. This might require some negotiation since one of you might want to move to the suburbs and buy a home while the other can’t imagine not living within walking distance of a great pub.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve decided on your mutual financial goals, it’s time to figure out how to make them a reality. Book an appointment with a financial advisor who will look at your savings, debt, and income and make recommendations on how much you need to save going forward in order to afford your goals. Want to retire to Hawaii at 32? They’ll let you know if that’s possible or help you make an alternative plan you can afford.
Decide on Your Cash Philosophy
If one of you is a spendthrift and the other thinks being thrifty is an Olympic sport, you need to sit down and decide how you will compromise once you’re married. This often isn’t an easy conversation as people have deep personal reasons for their money philosophies. The financial plan you made can help since it will allow spendthrifts to appreciate the reasons for saving and penny pinchers to realize that they can loosen up and spend a little money while achieving their financial goals.
Merge Your Accounts… or Don’t
There are pros and cons when it comes to merging bank accounts. Some people believe having joint accounts makes for a happy marriage since all money is shared and spending decisions can be made together. Meanwhile, other couples wouldn’t survive a week if they merged their accounts. You can find a compromise by having both joint and separate accounts and get the best of both worlds.
Divvy it Up
There’s nothing wrong with not merging your accounts, just make sure to discuss how much each partner should contribute for joint expenses and savings. This is particularly important if one partner makes significantly more than another. While some couples decide on a dollar amount that each person must chip in, others choose to divide expenses proportionally. For example, if one person makes 70% of the income in the relationship, they would be responsible for 70% of the expenses. While it might take a calculator to figure out – it’s worth it to make sure both of you feel things are divided fairly.
Just because your parents or your friends do something one way, doesn’t mean you have to. Talk through your financial dreams and figure out what’s right for your marriage. Once you have a plan, you can walk down the aisle knowing that you can live together financially ever after!
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.