Should I open a joint bank account? Where should I change my beneficiaries? How do we overhaul our budget?
Before you get married, money questions are everywhere. But before you get into dollars, cents, and accounts, begin with something much simpler … but much harder.
It’s time to start talking.
We spoke with two financial experts who told us the first, most important thing to do with your money when you get married, and both of them pointed to communication over maths.
1. Understand how you’ll make joint decisions
“The first thing is getting an understanding of where each of you are coming from,” Brandon Moss, CFP, Director of Client Experiences at United Capital, told Business Insider. “The money conversation is always tough,” he said, so before you even sit down to talk about the specifics of your finances, “get an understanding of how you and your spouse are going to make money decisions.”
He explained that some people make decisions out of fear, others out of happiness, and others with their loved ones top of mind. “Just knowing where the other person is coming from is the best thing you can do from a money perspective, before you even touch the money.”
United Capital offers a free online tool to help pinpoint your money personality.
2. Create goals together
Patrick Meyer, CFP, AIF, CFTA, Director of Wealth Management Client Services at Unified Trust Company, also says communication around money is paramount. He recommends establishing joint goals and assigning your financial priorities together. “It’s a matter of making decisions jointly, as opposed to thinking about just yourself. It’s not all about you anymore — it’s about we or about us.”
Setting appropriate financial goals means getting on the same page about your priorities. Is it important to send your kids to private school? Is a weeklong vacation every summer crucial to your sanity? Do you want to eliminate your student loans before doing anything else? If you need some ideas about where to start the conversation, take a look at our list of 13 things to accomplish with your money before 30.
Not everything is about talking.