10 Critical Money Matters to Discuss Before Marriage

critical money matters to discuss before marriage

Marriage is more than just an emotional commitment. In a marriage, two individuals decide to come together, to become "one", and to spend the rest of their lives together.

The problem is that since marriage often is the result of a romantic relationship, a lot of people are far too shy to bring up any of their financial concerns. This is a serious problem, because a marriage is a commitment to share all your ups and downs. Without clarifying financial issues first, it's very easy for both parties to end up in unhappy situations.

For example, the matter of matrimonial properties might seem like a no-brainer for some couples. They know that they will share everything they own from the moment they say "I do".

However, in reality there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration.

If you owned a considerable number of assets prior to getting married would you want them to become joint property once you were married? Are you willing to truly share all of your wealth with your partner?

These are just some questions that need to be answered before you tie the knot.

More importantly, clearing up these financial issues can in fact make life as a couple much easier. If you get these issues out of the way ahead of time, hopefully you will not have to deal with too much financial conflict after you say I do.

Don't worry if talking about money isn't romantic. Much of married life isn't romantic, either, because it's a real partnership through and through. 

10 Money Issues To Discuss Before Getting Married

Financial Past

It's a good idea to come clean before a marriage, on both personal and financial matters.

Don't hide issues like gambling problems, debt, and other things that could end up harming your marriage. Though it may seem like you're placing your relationship in jeopardy by revealing these past indiscretions, it's actually very important.

Remember not to build a marriage on lies.

If you used to have debt trouble but managed to turn your weaknesses around, it's still important to talk about it. Reveal these things now before they come back to haunt you. 

Credit Score

It's very unromantic, but credit scores are actually important in a partnership.

A poor credit score should be discussed. It could be from a simple mistake or it could be a result of some very bad habits that you may not want to deal with once you are aware of them. Don't jump into a relationship without clarifying these things first.

Spending Habits

The way you treat money should also be discussed.

If you spend more than you earn, then this is something you should bring up with your future spouse. After all, you'll be sharing incomes in your household, won’t you?

It's a good idea to talk about these habits now, before you get married.


These refer to financial obligations outside of the partnership. Do you take care of your parents or siblings financially? Are you paying child support or alimony?

Are you expected to pay for certain properties like a home or a car for someone else?

These are things you have to point out early on.

Also, if you are paying off debt, including student loans, car loans, and so on, that you have accumulated in your lifetime, be upfront and mention this now. 

Since you will have to spend a chunk of your income on these obligations, laying them out in the open before you share a household should eliminate future fights and misunderstandings.

Sharing Expenses

Since you will be sharing a home, it's inevitable that bills will come with the partnership.

Talk about the division of these shared expenses beforehand.

You should have an equal division, if you both agree. But maybe you have other plans on how to handle your joint expenses.

Your incomes should be taken into consideration when dividing your expenses. Make sure that both parties are okay with the distribution of financial obligations, because you definitely don't want to force your partner into paying for something he or she doesn’t agree with.

Individual Assets

A pre-nuptial agreement often gets a lot of flak because it seems very unromantic.

However, it's definitely a necessity if one party has significantly more assets than the other. To prevent arguments and unnecessary insinuations over property, it's best to have a prenuptial agreement in place before the wedding. 

Plus, it sounds awful now but in the event of a divorce, a pre-nup makes matters a lot easier.

Saving Habits

How much do you save? What are your principles when it comes to savings? Though it seems like a minor matter, in reality this is something you need to discuss before it becomes a matter of conflict. For example, a spouse who doesn't see the value in saving up money for a rainy day might upset someone who is very fussy with their savings. 

Career Plans

Where do you see yourself in a decade? What are your long term career plans? And what are your spouse’s long term career plans?

Will your career plans include returning to school? If so how will that affect your finances?

Will one of you work full-time while the other goes back to school? Will having to live off of one income put a strain on your marriage? These are all things that should be discussed before your wedding day.

Budgeting Style

This is closely related to your saving habits. If you are frugal and you marry someone who loves to spend money, things could get ugly.

And what if you like to follow a strict budget and your future spouse says “what’s a budget?”.

Discuss your money principles and beliefs, and encourage your soon to be spouse to do the same. Try to iron out differences and find a happy compromise.

Financial Goals

You're partners. You need to make sure that your goals are aligned. If you want a home in five years, you'll have to be vocal about this. If you hope to have children you both need to be in agreement that you can afford to have children. If you enjoy taking several vacations each year, and you hope your spouse does too, you should discuss this upfront.

Don't keep it to yourself then stew in anger if it doesn't happen within your expected timeframe. Share your dreams, and share your plans.



    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 08/26/2013 5:30 a.m. #

      Even though it's not always fun, I think sharing your financial past is important before marriage. Additionally, I totally agree with sharing financial goals. I would have a hard time being married to someone with different long-term financial goals because they likely wouldn't support or understand my motivation for working so hard.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 11:27 a.m. #

        Good for you guys for being on the same page! It is definitely important to share similar financial goals. Most likely there are a lot of couples out there that do not. Just look at all the celebrities in the news that don't.

    • James Molet (SavvyJames)

      James Molet (SavvyJames) 08/26/2013 6:51 a.m. #

      All excellent points. I believe the last entry is appropriate, and perhaps the most important, because it may render the earlier points moot if the financial goals are not the same. It is amazing how much can be accomplished with a common purpose and how quickly something can be destroyed without it.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 11:29 a.m. #

        It is strange when people refer to marriage as a partnership but then each person goes in a different direction instead of sharing the same financial goals. How can it work out well? And it would be the same for a business partnership if each business owner had different ideas on how the money in the business should be dealt with.

    • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

      Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 08/26/2013 10:04 a.m. #

      Great Tips, Sicorra! It is so important to talk about money prior to getting married. As you said, it isn't always the most romantic conversation but finding out your mismatched financially and having regular arguments about money as a married couple is not very romantic either. A lot couples avoid these important conversations which is unfortunate. I think they can actually bring you closer together, particularly setting goals and envisioning your future life together.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 11:32 a.m. #

        I agree Shannon, they can bring you closer together if you find that your plans align with one another. And sometimes one person may have different goals or may not have even thought about goals yet, but as you discuss them over time as a couple a person might find, that hey, I hadn't thought of that yet, but what a great idea. And it can turn out to be a lot of fun.

    • Corina Rams

      Corina Rams 08/26/2013 10:54 a.m. #

      Great suggestions Sicorra.

      We didn't go into much detail about our finances when Mario and I got together but we're lucky it all worked out for us...I think.

      These conversations are sometimes uncomfortable but they need to happen. Thanks Sicorra!

      Happy Monday my friend...talk soon!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 11:36 a.m. #

        I know things are working out for you guys now, and that is wonderful. As we said the other day, it is always a work in progress, my friend.

        My first husband and I didn't talk about these things either, but that was a case where we definitely should have. My second husband was all about finances from day one, and we still struggle. Nothing is 100% perfect.

    • Lady Bren

      Lady Bren 08/26/2013 12:21 p.m. #

      forget the toothpaste cap issue it is money that really needs to be delved into
      the more and more that things keep changing I sincerely hope my 3 kids not only follow this great advice but look into pre-nups especially regarding financial responsibilities

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 3:32 p.m. #

        I forgot all about fights over the toothpaste cap. Funny!

        Hopefully people remember to talk about money before they get married, but sometimes they are so excited about just being together and they neglect the details.

    • CarolB

      CarolB 08/26/2013 12:31 p.m. #

      Great tips! I didn't discuss a single one of them before we got married! :/
      But in my defense, I got married right out of college, and just wasn't quite "financially savvy enough" to even think about this kind of stuff. Thankfully it's worked out, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this approach to my own kids!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 3:35 p.m. #

        I know exactly what you mean Carol. I didn't discuss too many finances prior to my first marriage either. Some, but not lots, and not with the best intentions.

        I'm sure your kids will do well. They have your support to guide them through.

    • Corinne

      Corinne 08/26/2013 3:58 p.m. #

      Great post Sicorra. There's definitely a reason people say money is the #1 cause for arguments. Like Corina, the hubs and I didn't go too much into the financial talk ahead of time, but luckily we see eye to eye. The personal spending can get a little out of hand at times, but we manage to keep each other in check.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/26/2013 4:45 p.m. #

        Thanks Corinne! I think it is quite common for people to skip the financial conversations or to only chat about it a bit as necessary. Good for your guys for making it all work out well though.

    • Tara @ Streets Ahead Living

      Tara @ Streets Ahead Living 08/27/2013 6:03 a.m. #

      Great tips, I really recommend talking these up sooner rather than later. Even if you're not engaged yet, it's great to talk about finances so your possible future spouse doesn't surprise you!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 08/28/2013 10:08 a.m. #

        Casual conversations early on may be okay for some couples. The thing is you don't want to scare anyone off when are you starting out either.

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