Sharing Info with your Fiancé

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When Drew and I started dating, I was an English major, bartender and loving every second of my youth.  I spent my tips as fast as I made them and didn’t worry about the future. I believed everything would work itself out, including my bank account. Fortunately, opposites attract. Drew is a pragmatist and he helped me see that my carpe diem lifestyle should not apply to finances.

Our financial conversations began when he found out that I didn’t have a credit card. He insisted that I sign up for one to establish good credit. “Someday,” he said, “You will need to trade in that beloved, ’97 Jeep Wrangler and take out a loan for a more reliable car.

We have been together for ten years and married for two. Because we communicate and trust each other, rarely do we argue about our finances. We always discuss any purchases ahead of time and day-to-day purchases are made in the best interest of our family

Sharing your financial information with your future spouse can be difficult. Here are a few tips to jump this hurdle together.

Lay It All on the Line
Before you walk down the aisle, sit down with your fiancé and review your finances. If you don’t already know their credit score, find out. You are getting married. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Share everything. I mean everything: car payments, Netflix subscriptions, your daily coffee purchase and outstanding debt. You don’t want to start your life together with a $30,000 skeleton in the closet.

I was embarrassed to mention my student loan debt, but we came up with a plan to tackle the debt together. If you have high interest rate debt, address that first. When we got engaged, we saved money by refinancing my car loan. You might be surprised at how many places you can cut costs.

Next, determine if you will combine bank accounts, get a joint credit card, and how you will pay bills. Create a plan that works for you both, but make sure that your plan doesn’t allow you to hide your spending habits or avoid difficult conversations.

Budget for Your Future
Do you want to have kids someday? Earn your master’s degree? Do you want to buy a home first or rent an apartment and spend more on travel? These are important topics to discuss.
We bought our starter home when it was just us and our dog. We have since rescued a second dog and had a baby. Baby stuff and dog toys are everywhere, but we decided that we will save money and enjoy the closeness of our home now rather than follow the trend of upgrading. Resist the urge to buy a bigger house, newer car or the latest iPhone. Rarely is it financially responsible to keep up with the latest trend.

Think about where you want to be in 10 years, or even 20. If you and your spouse want to start a family, plan for maternity and paternity leave and investigate a 529 college fund. Try to cut back on any frivolous spending and put money into a savings account. A few years from now, buying diapers might be much more important than following the latest fashion trends. (Trust me!) If your company offers a 401(k), don’t pass up the opportunity to save for retirement. Compounding interest and a company matching 401(k) plan should not be ignored.

Go Digital
There are so many ways to make paying bills and creating a budget more convenient. We set up our bills to be paid automatically and we have downloaded several apps to keep our finances in check. Mint is one of my favorites because it tells me exactly how much we spend monthly on going out, health care and other expenses. Seeing our monthly spending on a graph helps us see where we can cut costs. We both have our bank’s mobile app on our phones to make paying our credit card bill quick and easy. We also use Credit Karma to make sure we’re doing everything we can to maintain a positive credit score. Knowing each other’s credit score and credit history is important before you make any big financial decisions together.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Expenses are always changing, so continue evaluating your finances and talking about your goals. A happy marriage and financial security are not destinations. To maintain both requires constant reflection, hard work and honest communication. Drew and I are very different, but we continue to learn from each other. I help him live in the present and he helps me plan for our future. You and your fiancé are a team now; be completely honest with each other and trust that your partner will support you in the same way that you support them. ■